linguoboy wrote:Okay, I think I understand the distinction you're drawing between "qualifying attributive nouns" and other sorts of noun modifiers, including possessives. Still seems somewhat tautological to me, however.
I taught the distinction was common in Irish grammars, it's in Ó Nualláin and the Christian Brothers grammar I believe. How is the distinction tautological? I agree it could be wrong or pointless, but what makes it a tautology.
In Irish, as far as most treatments of the grammar go, there is a distinction between a noun in the genitive being used attributively as in:
bróg chailín = a girly shoe
And being used as simply another noun (possessing the previous one), not a quality/attribute of the proceeding noun, as in:
bróg cailín = a girl's shoe
Since they are treated differently grammatically, I would have thought it was an important distinction to make. One set, the "attributive nouns" are treated grammatically like adjectives, the other set are not.
(BTW, I disagree that bean an tí is a "proper noun" in obair bhean an tí. Bean an tí doesn't uniquely designate any particular individual; after all, theoretically, every house could have one.)
I didn't think it is a proper noun "logically", rather that it is taken as (treated as) a proper noun grammatically as definite genitive constructions always are, i.e. the first noun of a definite genitive construction is treated grammatically as if it were a proper noun, up to the phenomena known as bracketed constructions where native speakers originally had a distinction between:
obair bhean an tí
obair mhná an tí
This originally arose from:
ag déanamh oibre sagairt = doing priestly work (a more literal translation)
here obair goes into the genitive, as "sagart" is functioning as an attributive noun, essentially an adjective on "obair" and hence "obair" behaves no differently than if it had an adjective attached.
(P.S. I'm not convinced I'm right, you know more languages than me and have a broader scope on grammar, it's possible that these traditional grammatical distinctions are pointless as they arose from early Irish grammarians and not modern linguistics. For example Bonaventure Ó hEoghasa's five declension distinction.)