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In his Sanskrit Grammar, William Dwight Whitney describes the uses of the genitive case in Sanskrit and he mentions the 'genitive of possession or appurtenance':

  1. The genitive in its normal adjective construction with a noun or pronoun is classifiable into the usual varieties: as, genitive of possession or appurtenance, including the complement of implied relation—this is, as elsewhere, the commonest of all; the so-called partitive genitive; the subjective and objective genitives; and so on. Genitives of apposition or equivalence (city of Rome), and of characteristic (man of honor), do not occur, and hardly that of material (house of wood). Examples are: índrasya vájraḥ Indra's thunderbolt; pitā putrāṇām father of sons; putraḥ pituḥ son of the father; pituḥ kāmaḥ putrasya the father's love of the son; ke naḥ which of us; çataṁ dāsīnām a hundred female slaves.

This is quite an old text, my edition was first published in 1896 and I think the first edition dates back to 1879, so it uses a lot of older terminology, such as 'mute' for 'stop' and 'surd and sonant' for 'voiceless and voiced consonant'.

I'm aware that 'genitive of appurtenance' may not be current terminology, but since this is the book I am using I would like to be able to understand it on its own terms, so I was wondering what he means by this classification?

Appurtenance is not a word I'm very familiar with, but I've looked in a few dictionaries and it seems to be an appendage to something (the proboscis of a fly?), "something subordinate to another, more important thing; adjunct; accessory" (source) (the grounds of the castle?), or, simply, "the thing to which another pertains" (source). From reading around, it seems that 'appurtenance' here probably just means expressing a relationship between a and b. Presumably the example father of sons, then, is an example of a 'genitive of appurtenance'. What about 'the door of the house', is that a genitive of appurtenance? What about 'gospel of Christ' (example taken from this book which confused me more than it enlightened me)?

As for 'the complement of implied relation', I assume that the example of that is son of the father, for if you are a son, there is an implication that you must be a son of someone - here, of the father.

  • While this is a valid question, it might be too broad to be answered all at once. I'd suggest breaking it down into smaller questions and asking them individually: "what is the difference between a subjective and objective genitive?", for example. – Draconis Apr 3 at 18:56
  • Much the same categories can be applied to noun compounds, without resort to genitive; for instance, subject and object are distinguished in English snake bite and pony ride. Genitive case adds a wrinkle, but not a necessary one. – jlawler Apr 3 at 18:56
  • @Draconis Hello there, yes, I did wonder if I should break it down into individual questions, but they seemed a bit niche ('too localised' in the old terminology - not sure if that's still current) on their own, so I thought I'd aim for a question about the genitive. The idea of breaking it down into parts was to make it clearer and the idea behind the verbiage was to show research effort and also, I guess, to guide answerers in directions that would most help me understand what I really want to understand, but I shall break it down right away – Au101 Apr 3 at 19:00
  • @Au101 The research effort is absolutely appreciated! And I think you'll definitely get answers once it's broken down; it's just quite a lot of ground to cover right now. – Draconis Apr 3 at 19:01
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    In traditional classical Greek grammar, the "super-classification" of possessive, material, and similar genitives is called the genitivus pertinentiae. The German term for this would be genitive of "Zugehörigkeit" -- affiliation, or belonging. Maybe he's just coming from that tradition. – phipsgabler Apr 10 at 12:54

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