Saxon genitive, descriptive genitive?
Thread poster: M. Cristina Caimotto

M. Cristina Caimotto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
Jun 25, 2003

I posed a kudoz question asking wheter it is correct to write

an hour's yoga

in English. Some people (thanks Francesca) told me the rule I know as well about saxon genitive being used only for People (Rita's car) while Manducci kindly sent this explanation from the "Columbia Guide to Standard American English":

" A few of the crustiest purists continue to argue that inanimate objects cannot use the genitive because they often cannot be said to possess the quality named, as in "a day's pay". In fact, the genitive case has always had more purposes than simply indicating possession and descriptive genitives are, and long have been, standard English"

The kudoz question can be found at
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/465352

What do you think about it?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
an hour's yoga, yes Jun 25, 2003

I go with my experience and ear.

An hour's yoga is fine in some instances.

"An hour's yoga will cost you $25.00"
[meaning: an hour's WORTH of yoga]

BUT

If you are advertising the yoga class and you list the price, then it is not correct.
Yoga per hour or
yoga
one hour
two hours...

Collocation is important in your example...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

M. Cristina Caimotto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Collocation Jun 25, 2003

Dear Jane,

I was referring to a sentence like

"An hour's yoga will cost you $25.00"

Would you use "an hour of yoga" in this case? and if you would, which would you consider most appropriate?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Francesca Siotto  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
genitive or not?? Jun 25, 2003

voglio proprio vederci chiaro su questa questione che ha suscitato tante polemiche ciao cristina

Direct link Reply with quote
 
John Bowden  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:59
German to English
There's no ther way of saying/writing it! Jun 25, 2003

For more examples of the possessive genitive, see:

http://alt-usage-english.org/genitive_and_possessive.html


Best wishes


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
An hour's yoga Jun 25, 2003

will do everyone well at this stage...

But "an hour of yoga (lessons) will cost XX", if this is how it is to be understood.

So how do you want it understood?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

M. Cristina Caimotto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
"No other way of saying it" Jun 26, 2003

Dear John,

would it then be wrong to say "one hour of yoga"?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Romina Minucci
Italy
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
thank you John Jun 26, 2003

very good and useful link John!

thanks a lot

John Bowden wrote:

For more examples of the possessive genitive, see:

http://alt-usage-english.org/genitive_and_possessive.html


Best wishes


Direct link Reply with quote
 
John Bowden  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:59
German to English
No, it wouldn't be wrong... Jun 26, 2003

Maria Cristina Caimotto wrote:

Dear John,

would it then be wrong to say "one hour of yoga"?


Hi Maria. I was wrong to state so baldly "there's no other way of saying it"...what I meant was that the genitive is perfectly normal, and is often the only natural-sounding way to express the idea.

In the case you asked about - the yoga example - it's possible to say "an hour's yoga", "an hour of yoga" or "one hour of yoga" - however, there are very slight differences in how they're used.

"An hour's yoga" is perhaps the most "neutral": "I'm having an hour's yoga this evening" / "I always do an hour's yoga before I go to work" etc. Here, no particular emphasis is being placed on the exact length of time (could be an hour and five minutes, or 55 minutes, it just expresses "a short time, about an hour long).

"An hour of yoga" implies a bit more attention to the length of time and can be a little more formal - "An hour of yoga costs £5.00". However, there's very little difference between this and "an hour's yoga" - perhaps if you said "I always do an hour of yoga", you are being slightly more exact about the time ("I time myself...")

"One hour of yoga" definitely emphasizes the length of time - "I paid for one hour of yoga, and I'm not leaving until I get the whole amount...". Often "One" will be contrasted to another number, and will be emphasised in speaking: "One hour of yoga does me more good than three hours in the gym".

However, in many cases the three examples above are not interchangeable: for example, you could say "My boss owes me a week's wages" or (if you want to emphasise the numeber a bit more - one week, not four days... "My boss owes me one week's wages". You'll often find this formulation in official/legal satements: "If you are made redundant, you are entitled to one week's wages for every year you have worked for the company". Howver, it would sound very odd indeed to say "My boss owes me a week of wages..." etc.

Similar examples could be:

"I'm taking a week's holiday next month" (neutral, simply a statement of intention)

"I'm taking one week's holiday next month and another two weeks in August" (more emphasis on the number...)


"I'm taking one week of holiday next month" (( = one week out of my holiday entitlement of five weeks...sounds more formal, as if you're thinking of your legal entitlement).

As always, there are "illogical" exceptions, and probably no two native English speakers would entirely agree with each other about specific examples: can we ever say "a day of pay", for example, even in a legalistic context?

Best wishes!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Francesco Barbuto  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
What about the other way around? Jun 26, 2003

Hi everybody,

I think It would be more precise to say:

"a yoga's hour"

If we have to use the saxon genitive at all!
"an hour's yoga" does not make sense at all to my "ear".

Cheers everybody.

FFB


In fact, when we say: "a dog's life", we mean " the life of a dog" end, so, following the same rule, from "an hour's yoga" we would get the meaning: "the yoga of an hour", whereas, with: "a yoga's hour" we would get: "the hour of yoga" or: "an hour of yoga".

Cheers

[Edited at 2003-06-26 21:26]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
John Bowden  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:59
German to English
To quote John McEnroe: Jun 26, 2003

Francesco Barbuto wrote:

Hi everybody,

I think It would be more precise to say:

"a yoga's hour"

If we have to use the saxon genitive at all!
"an hour's yoga" does not make sense at all to my "ear".

Cheers everybody.

FFB


In fact, when we say: "a dog's life", we mean " the life of a dog" end, so, following the same rule, from "an hour's yoga" we would get the meaning: "the yoga of an hour", whereas, with: "a yoga's hour" we would get: "the hour of yoga" or: "an hour of yoga".

Cheers

[Edited at 2003-06-26 21:26]



"You can not be serious"!!!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

M. Cristina Caimotto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:59
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you John Jun 27, 2003

Thank you very much John, your explanation was very clear to me.
Once again I have to say it's much more useful to pay attention to what you read and hear rather than studying grammar rules!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
manducci  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Italian to English
Non-possessive uses of the genitive Jun 30, 2003

The genitive is not, as I already pointed out in my kudos answer, used exclusively to indicate possession. The genitive in the phrase "an hour's yoga" is a case in point: it does NOT denote POSSESSION.It is, as far as I am aware, an example of the DESCRIPTIVE GENITIVE, which is frequently used to describe duration (as MUJA confirmed). There are many examples of this use of the genitive - other examples being:
an hour's drive/walk/conversation
a day's/a week's/ a month's pay.
It seems that the key phrase in the extract taken from the "Columbia Guide to Standard American English" has been overlooked:
"the genitive case HAS ALWAYS HAD MORE PURPOSES THAN SIMPLY INDICATING POSSESSION and DESCRIPTIVE GENITIVES are, and always have been, STANDARD ENGLISH."


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Endre Both  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:59
Member (2002)
English to German
Thanks John Jul 1, 2003

...for your great explanation!

Endre


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Saxon genitive, descriptive genitive?

Advanced search






SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums