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double possessive
Posted: 14 March 2007 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s odd that we can say:

He’s a friend of Brian.

or

He’s Brian’s friend.

...meaning the same thing, but we also say:

He’s a friend of Brian’s.

Seems a bit tautological.

I don’t have a question, I’m just making conversation.

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Posted: 14 March 2007 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi there, OP.  How’s the weather in Oz?

(I’ve always thought it was strange, but that’s language for you).

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Posted: 14 March 2007 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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When using pronouns, not doing the “double possessive” sounds very odd to me:
He’s Brian’s friend.  -> He’s my friend.  -> He’s her friend.
He’s a friend of Brian’s. -> He’s a friend of mine. -> He’s a friend of hers.
He’s a friend of Brian.  -> He’s a friend of me.(???) -> He’s a friend of her.(???)
but is it wrong?

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Posted: 15 March 2007 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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As Myridon suggests, replace with the equivalent personal pronoun:

Friend of Brian’s = Friend of his

Friend of Brian = Friend of him

The second pair both sound unidiomatic to me.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Back in the old days prepositions generally required a certain case in the noun which they preposed.  In some cases there might be a choice of cases, e.g., in could take dative or accusative depending on whether it was being used to indicate motion into or placement in.  The only case that has any distinctive marker in modern English nouns is what we now tend to refer to as the possesive, so when of is governing the possesive case it seems to me it should be considered correct to use the possesive form of the noun.  OTOH, one would never say, e.g., a case of beer’s.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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When were the “old days” in English?

Pretty much the Old English period, pre-1100 CE. The grammatical term is govern. A preposition is said to govern one or more cases.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I know for sure that we discussed this at some length once at EZboard, but it seems to be one of those threads that that stubbornly hides from Google (or possibly was lost in the Great Hacker Attack).  Anyway, the OED2 has a note on this use of of:

32. Followed by a noun in the genitive case or a possessive pronoun.
Originally partitive, but subsequently used instead of the simple possessive (of the possessor or author) where this would be awkward or ambiguous, or as equivalent to an appositive phrase; e.g. this son of mine = this my son; a dog of John’s = a dog which is John’s, a dog belonging to John. The early examples are capable of explanation as partitive, but in later use this is often not possible, and the construction may now be viewed as appositional (see further O. Jespersen On Some Disputed Points in English Grammar (S.P.E. Tract No. XXV, 1926)).

“Partitive” means selecting (or indicating) a part out of a whole.  Thus “that dog of yours” = “that dog, out of all your dogs”, “a friend of mine” = “one friend from among all my friends”.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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So would that suggest that “a friend of Brian” has a slightly different meaning to “a friend of Brian’s” in that the latter implies that the friend is one of many and the former doesn’t?  I’ve always considered the two phrases to carry slightly different connotations, but can’t put my finger on where the difference lies.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Although (assuming the OED is correct), “a friend of Brian’s” originally would have implied a plurality of friends, I don’t think it carries even a connotation of that meaning anymore.

To me, what small difference there is between “friend of Brian” and “friend of Brian’s” would be that the former construction is more usual when the object is an abstraction or impersonal thing ("Friends of the Earth”, “a friend of the arts”, “Friends of Canterbury Cathedral") and thus, to me, carries more of a sense of being a supporter or well-wisher and less of an implication of mutual affection.

I.e., a “friend of Brian” likes Brian and means him well, a “friend of Brian’s” is someone Brian likes back.

But most of the time I think the two forms are interchangeable.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The biggest difference is between “Friends of Bill” and “Friends of Bill’s” ... in which FOB means the carrier ain’t loaded before departure, upon delivery, or anywhere in between.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous

Which I guess restates Dr.Techie’s point about abstract versus personal.

[ Edited: 16 March 2007 04:57 AM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 16 March 2007 06:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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There’s also the meaning from our last president’s administration, where a “friend of Bill” was a political associate of the president. While a “friend of Bill’s” was actually a friend.

And there is also “friend of Dorothy,” which has nothing to do with a woman named named Dorothy, or women at all for that matter. It’s slang for a gay man, a reference to Judy Garland’s role in the Wizard of Oz.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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foolscap - 16 March 2007 04:43 AM

The biggest difference is between “Friends of Bill” and “Friends of Bill’s” ... in which FOB means the carrier ain’t loaded before departure, upon delivery, or anywhere in between.

Sorry, foolscap, that last reference went completely over my head - can you explain, please?

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Posted: 17 March 2007 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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FOB, meaning free on board, is transportation jargon. FOB means that the shipper assumes responsibility, including shipping cost, up to and including loading onto the transport vessel/vehicle at the designated place. After that, it becomes the responsibility of the consignee.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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meaning free on board

And I always thought FOB meant freight on board.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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FOB indeed designates the point at which ownership and responsibility for the carrying of baggage are assumed, something Friends of Bill (FOB) may stress in their meetings. And “loaded”, well it’s all relative and mysterious. Some people always have baggage and unload their baggage on to other people yet never get rid of it, while some people get loaded to release their baggage but end up with more.

It’s like where chickens come from. All chickens are laid but some chickens never got laid.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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jheem - 17 March 2007 06:32 AM

meaning free on board

And I always thought FOB meant freight on board.

Depends.  Fiber Optic Gyroscope is my favorite.

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