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Luxembourgish Lessons #38: His Genitive

Welcome to number thirty-eight of the Luxembourgish lessons, which will finally discuss another way of demonstrating possession.

Recommended Lessons

Genitive Case: Yes? No? Maybe?

Luxembourgish has an interesting relationship with the genitive. Luxembourgish does have genitive articles, and a semblance of genitive "case", usually found in phrases relating to time such as Ufanks der Woch (Beginning of the week) and Enn des Mounts (End of the month).

Outside of that, however, use of the genitive in that manner is very, VERY rare. Preferably, if one were to talk about a something of a something, Luxembourgish would treat that statement like English, with vun taking the function of of. In other words, a phrase like "Voice of the people" would MUCH prefer the translation Stëmm vun der Leit rather than Stëmm der Leit. I cannot guarantee what would happen if you were to use the latter instead of the former.

There is, however, another way of representing the genitive.

The Periphrastic Genitive

For those who know German, you may be fairly familiar with the following saying:

Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod

Literally, it translates to "The dative is to the genitive its death". This is the periphrastic genitive or the "his" genitive in a nutshell. The periphrastic genitive involves the combination of the dative case and possessive pronouns.

Consider the phrase Dem Mann säi Buch. Literally, it translates as "To the man his book", but colloquially it means "The man's book". When forming the periphrastic, the dative phrase comes first (conjugated according to the dative noun's gender), followed by a possessive pronoun (again in accordance to the gender of the dative noun), and then the object of the genitive.

The dative phrase does not have to have an article like dem or enger. Possessive pronouns can also fulfill that role. For example, the phrase "My friend's arm" would translate as Menger Frëndin hiren Aarm (or Mengem Frënd säin Aarm, if the person in question is male).

In regards to adjectives, if the possessor has a modifier, the adjective will inflect in accordance with the case (which is always dative) and the gender of the possessor. Also, if a definite article is used, the corresponding definite emphatic article must be used. For example, the phrase "The old woman's son" would translate as Där aler Fra hire Jong. For reference, "The old woman" by itself translates as Déi al Fra.

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April 25, 2017


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