Re: Zerwick vs. Objective & Subjective Genitive

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 11:04:45 -0600

At 8:52 AM -0600 1/24/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:

> [Jonathan's odyssey through Zerwick and Wallace omitted]


>So I turned to BDR for an authoritative answer, and read: "Division

>objective genitive, subjective genitive, etc. is merely an attempt to

>emphasize some of the many possible uses of the adnominal genitive".

I think this is the truth of the matter. I think we can broadly
distinguish three original "cases" that use genitive endings:
pertinentive (adnominal), partitive, and ablative.

The "pertinentive" or "adnominal" or "adjectival" function is
<underline>structural</underline> rather than
<underline>semantic</underline>: it links one noun to another noun on
which it is dependent; one might say it means "belonging to" in the
widest sense, but that's not useful as a translation. Often this
genitive may be translated with an adjectival form of the noun.

Subjective and objective genitive are useful terms chiefly because the
subject or object of a noun expressing a verbal notion is so commonly
put into this "pertinentive" objective. But the difference between them
is strictly one of context, and it is often not clear which genitive is
the subject and which is the object. hH TOU PATROS THS QUGATROS FILIA
could be either "the father's love for his daughter" or "the daughter's
love for her father." There's no distinction at all in the inherent
function of the genitive here beyond the one which we assign to it in
our analysis.

Carl W. Conrad

Department of Classics, Washington University

One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130

(314) 935-4018 OR