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Case: the characterization construction de-s N-s

The old genitive ending -s in Dutch can be used in the following way (Hoeksema 1998), (Booij 2010: Ch. 9):

Example 1

a. Cocooning is niet de-s schrijver-s, maar de-s Belg-s
Cocooning is not the-GEN.SG.masc writer-GEN.SG.masc, but the-GEN.SC.masc Belg-GEN.SG.masc
Cocooning is not characteristic of writers but of Belgians
b. Agressie is niet de-s vrouw-s
Aggression is not the-GEN.SG.M woman-GEN.SG.M
Aggression is not characteristic of women

What we observe here is the use of the construction [des (N)-s](NP) with the meaning characteristic of N. This NP can only be used as a predicate, and often in combination with the negative adverb niet not. The article des is the old GEN.SG form of the masculine and neuter definite articlesde and het. The use of des in present-day Dutch is restricted to idioms. The use of the genitive marker -s on the noun, and the use of the definite article des has been extended to feminine nouns (the old feminine genitive form of the determiner is der, as in de roeping der vrouw the vocation the-GEN.SG.F woman.SG the vocation of women).

  • Booij, Geert2010Construction morphologyOxford/New YorkOxford University Press
  • Hoeksema, Jack1998Een ondode kategorie: de genitiefTabu28162-167