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Use of Genitive

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:52 pm
by AlexAkimov
I imagine the Gaelic Genitive case adding "of" to a noun i.e.

balach - (a) boy ; balaich - of a boy ; a' bhalaich - of the boy

There is no 's to indicate possession in Gaelic (Paul's coat) so we use "of" instead:

* The boy's coat = coat + of the boy = còta a' bhalaich
* School('s) bus = bus + of school = bus-sgoile

I would see these as classic examples of the genitive case as they clearly work as "X of Y" AND "Y's X".

My query is around a word like taigh-bìdh (restaurant).

* house-of food = house-genitive of food = taigh-bìdh

However, this is (to me) is different from the previous 2 examples which were pure possessive genitive. In Taigh-bìdh, the "of" is less possession and more "contains" as in bag "of" spanners. So my question is this. Can we use the genitive just to get "of" in front of a noun, even if it's not a possessed/possessor relationship such as bus-sgoile?

Use of Genitive

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:20 pm
by akerbeltz
It's the same thing. I think what confuses you is this dratted new term some people introduced, the "possessive case". Not that "genitive" is without problems but I find possessive even more misleading than "genitive".

There are 3 (off the top of my head) ways in which you treat of/'s going English > Gaelic
- use a genitive (bus-sgoile, bus na sgoile, bus Chaluim)
- use aig (am bus aig Calum)
- use de (for partitives i.e. where the second noun is a mass noun like siùcar i.e. punnd a shiùcar)

Trying to unpick the Gaelic genitive using the English concept of possession just doesn't work. Taigh-bìdh and bus-sgoile are exactly the same kind of "thing" in Gaelic.

Use of Genitive

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:13 pm
by AlexAkimov
akerbeltz wrote:Trying to unpick the Gaelic genitive using the English concept of possession just doesn't work. Taigh-bìdh and bus-sgoile are exactly the same kind of "thing" in Gaelic.
That thing being words joined with an of. This "can" be seen as a possessive structure like bus-sgoile, but doesn't need to be, such as taigh-bìdh.

Use of Genitive

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:55 pm
by akerbeltz
I don't see the element of possession in bus-sgoile, to be honest. It doesn't necessarily belong to the school, mostly they belong to the council or are some hire company on a council contract 8-)

Use of Genitive

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:28 pm
by AlexAkimov
akerbeltz wrote: I don't see the element of possession in bus-sgoile, to be honest.
In what sense then is the bus "of" school?

còta a' bhalaich - Boy's coat - coat of the boy i.e. of indicates possession
taigh-bìdh - Restaurant - house of food i.e. of is more about content (house contains food)

I'd say these are clear and obvious and the "of" (to me) has a clear purpose in each case. Bus-sgoile is now confusing me based on your comment.

Use of Genitive

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:20 am
by faoileag
Think of these Gaelic "double nouns" (usually, but not always, with a hyphen), and the second noun in the genitive, as the same as similar English compound nouns like hen-house, lighthouse, schoolmaster, ferry-boat, sea-sickness (but with the noun order reversed).

Together they constitute a new thing or person. The genitive element (singular or plural) specifies what kind of thing or person it is. It has more of an adjectival role, going so far as to lenite if the first noun is feminine.

taigh-bìdh, taigh-òsta, taigh-solais, taigh-dhealbh (gen. pl.), taigh-chearc (gen. pl.)
neach-turais, luchd-ciùil, cuirm-chiùil (cuirm is fem.)
fear-teagaisg, bean-ghlanaidh
leabhar-latha, uisge-beatha, maighstir-sgoile, ionad-fàilte, itealan-mara, bàta-aiseig

Sometimes they are not hyphenated, and include (only) the article of the second (genitive) noun if it usually comes with an article, e.g. the sun the post, the sea. But they are still seen more or less as one compound noun with its own identity, e.g.

oifis a' phuist
dol fodha na grèine
cur na mara
luchd nam beann (
fear an taighe
bean na bainnse

Think of it as a system, and a very common one, rather than worrying about what the "of" signifies.

Hope this helps! :-)

Use of Genitive

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:07 pm
by AlexAkimov
Thanks, very helpful. So there are two main uses for the genitive form:

còta a' bhalaich - The boy's coat
each na caileige - The girl's horse

are possession/possessor relationships (the possessor is in Genitive). Whereas:

cur na mara
oifis a' phuist

are essentially compound nouns which join to form (in effect) a new noun (hyphenated or not). In these the inner noun is in Genitive.

Use of Genitive

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:46 am
by Níall Beag
I personally think that adding in "of" is misleading.

In English there are two different constructions that have a function similar to the Gaelic genitive.

First, there is the possessive ("John's" in "John's ball"), then there is the classifier noun ("butter" in "butter knife").

Gaelic, as we know, just has the genitive to do both jobs, and that's perfectly fine.

Now -- here's why I don't like the "of" thing.

First up, we have the "one definite only" thing in Gaelic: e.g. taigh an t-sagart. Many learners get confused and want to say "*an taigh an t-sagart", because they're thinking "the house of the priest", but it's not -- it's "the priest's house", and just like in English, there's only one "the", which goes with the priest.

When I was trying to get my head round the genitives, I was told that you could only have one definite article. Then I was told you could only have the definite article on the last noun. Then I was told there were exceptions, and I got really confused. It turns out that if you think about the difference in in English between the possessive and the classifier noun, it actually all starts to make more sense.

In "the priest's house", for example, "the" is tied to "priest". However, in "the bread knife", "the" is bound to "knife", not to "bread".

In written Gaelic this should often be clear through hyphenation, as Faoileag says, but A. people don't always follow the accepted conventions when writing and B. there's no hyphen in the spoken language!

Use of Genitive

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:04 pm
by AlexAkimov
Tapadh leat, a Nèill.