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This site claimed that the phrasal possessive in English came from French influence, while the synthetic possessive is Germanic.

Germanic Pattern: the king’s son - cf. German "des Königs Sohn".

French Pattern: the son of the king - cf. French "le fils du roi".

source: http://www.1066andallthat.com/english_middle/gallicization_03.asp

It would make sense since the latter is common in Latin grammar, while German uses genitives and also the -(e)s. However, in Scandinavian languages, whose ancestor had lasting and important influence in English, I have seen in some cases a similar pattern to the French one, but since I don't speak those languages I can't be sure. On the other hand, it would not be the only grammar change that French put or accelerated in English.

What is the origin of phrasal possessive in English?

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  • All the Romance languages lost the genitive construction and substituted some version of de instead. Middle English lost its cases and substituted prepositions also, including one for the possessive, bumping the genitive suffix -s up to clitic status (i.e, it can now go on the end of a phrase, like The king of England's dog). If you want to say that the of construction came from French, that's a vast oversimplification, but it's not totally incorrect. – jlawler Nov 10 '20 at 22:54
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    Here is a thesis that shows that this genitive form didn't appear overnight and not just because of the influence of Norman French : Myers, Sara Mae (2009) The evolution of the genitive noun phrase in early Middle English. MPhil(R) thesis – jlliagre Nov 11 '20 at 1:52
  • @jlawler The situation with Neo-Latin is not comparable to how English lost the case. The "lost genitive" was always out of favour in Vulgar Latin, since analytic was preferred over synthetic, as far as recorded history goes. – user31030 Nov 11 '20 at 8:30
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    FWIW: In colloquial German you could say "der Sohn vom König", too. – Uli Gerhardt Nov 11 '20 at 12:31
  • @UliGerhardt: And colloquial German provides another way of expressing it dem König sein Sohn which uses a gendered pronoun, so it is der Königin ihr Sohn for a female possesor. – jk - Reinstate Monica Jan 19 at 12:45