Nouns

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Morphosyntax 1 – Lecture 6 – Nouns: Gender, Case
Gender
N – not grammatical but biological gender
reference pronouns: wh-pronouns, personal pronouns, and reflexive pronouns
- personal gender (largely human in reference) - male and female
- nonpersonal gender (largely nonhuman and including inanimates)
 Nouns with personal reference
1. Personal male / female nouns
a) morphologically unmarked for gender
b) morphologically marked for gender
tendency in AmE - sex-neutral forms
2. dual gender
3. common gender
4. collective nouns
have pronoun coreference with which and it but in BrE, such collectives can take plural
concord (they) with the personal wh-pronoun (who)
a difference in viewpoint – sg. = emphasis on the non-personal collectivity of the group; pl. =
emphasis on the personal individuality within the group
 Nouns referring to animals and inanimates
1. Familiar (higher animals)
2. Less familiar animals (squirrels, ants, starlings, etc.) and inanimate nouns
 Names of countries
a) As geographical units → treated as inanimates
b) As political/economic units → often feminine
c) In sports → a personal collective noun
Case
1. COMMON case – unmarked
2. GENITIVE case – marked
 The genitive and the of-construction
a premodifying genitive (= ‘s) and a postmodifying prepositional phrase with of
The factors that play role:
a) lexical factors
gender – genitive case is used with classes that are of „higher“ gender (personal names,
personal, higher animals, collective nouns)
→ geographical names take the genitive inflection, especially when they are used to imply
human collectivity, human activity or concern
b) relational factors
partitive constructions (quantitative and qualitative) never have a genitive variant
c) Objective and subjective relation
-use of a premodifying genitive (‘s) object is rather uncommon
a woman of courage ~ *courage‘s woman
= The woman has courage.
-both genitive and of-phrase can be used in relation to the subject
the arrival of the train ~ the train‘s arrival
= The train has arrived.
 The genitive with superlatives and ordinals
- typical for locative nouns followed by a superlative adjective or a general ordinal (only, first,
last)
the world‘s best universities ~ the best universities in the world
 The ‘post-genitive‘ (double genitive)
- of-phrase + genitive
- the postmodifier must be definite and human
an opera of Verdi‘s
~ *an opera of a composer’s
- the head must be indefinite
A daughter of Mrs Brown‘s has arrived.
- the head cannot be a proper noun
Mrs Brown‘s Mary
~ *Mary of Mrs Brown
~ *Mary of Mrs Brown‘s
 The group genitive
- the genitive ‘s is attached to a postmodifier
the teacher of music‘s room ~ the room of the teacher of music
the University of Minesota‘s President
- if possible, long constructions are usually placed after the head - after the preposition of
?She is a man I met in the army‘s daughter.
She is the daughter of a man I met in the army.
 Apposition with of-phrases
the city of Rome
~ Rome is a city. / The city (that I mean) is Rome.
- nominalization of be-sentences
the fool of a policeman ~ The policeman is a fool.
- the N after the of-phrase must be singular
~ *those fools of policemen
 The independent genitive
- it is common to ellipt the noun following the genitive if the reference is contextually clear
- common when the unexpressed item refers to homes or businesses (local genitive)
 Partitive constructions
- may relate to
(a) quantity
- partition of non-count nouns (a piece of cake)
- partition of plural count nouns (a flock of sheep/pigeons)
- partition of singular count nouns (a piece of a leather belt)
(b) quality
- partition of count N: a new kind of computer
- partition of non-count: a delicious kind of bread
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