35 years of photographs vs. photographs of 35 years

nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
"I am a mother and a stepmother and have several grandchildren. I have been the "family photographer" at all our events and holiday celebrations. Looking through our 35 years of photographs, you will rarely find me in one. I was always there but behind the camera."


Please help me distinguish between the two: 35 years of photographs vs. photographs of 35 years

Obviously in the text above, it says "35 years of photographs" and it must be correct. But I have a trouble to just accept it because of my having seen "wife of 35 years" elsewhere.

I've always known that 'subject X of number Y' means subject X is worth of or old for number Y; As in 'a payment of 3 dollars' and '3 dollars in payment.' So I suspect it should be either 'photographs of 35 years' or '35 years in photographs.'

How can I set me straight regarding this?

source: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/koreatime_adminV2/LTNIE/common/printpreview.asp?nmode=3&idx=1085&gotopage=111
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The phrase used implies “our 35 years’ worth of photographs” = all the photos we’ve taken over the past 35 years.

    My wife of 35 years implies “my wife of 35 years’ standing” = the woman I have been married to for 35 years.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The phrase used implies “our 35 years’ worth of photographs” = all the photos we’ve taken over the past 35 years.

    My wife of 35 years implies “my wife of 35 years’ standing” = the woman I have been married to for 35 years.

    Thank you, but 35 year's worth of photographs is literally different from "35 years of photographs."
    How could I tell what's implied? Is this something commonly used so that everyone would just know it is what it is?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Looking through our 35 years of photographs…

    Any native English-speaker would automatically know what that meant, but I personally don’t see it as good English.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    'Photographs of 35 years' could be read to mean that the photos are 35 years old. That is not what is meant, as I'm sure you realise.
    Exactly. That's what I'm saying. How should tell? Well, I understand native speakers would definitely get it, but I was looking for a way to reason it with me.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You do realise that 'wife of 35 years' can also be ambiguous? It can mean the woman you have been married to for 35 years or your 35 year-old wife (admittedly the latter is a rather old-fashioned usage). You understand the meaning of things from the context.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You understand the meaning of things from the context.
    :thumbsup:

    Yes, sometimes that’s all it boils down to, I’m afraid. The trouble is that “photographs of 35 years” is no better than “35 years of photographs”. In fact it’s worse. Neither expression is particularly idiomatic – and there’s not much point in trying to explain, let alone justify, things that most people would probably not say. To be totally clear, you’d have to spell it out; for example, as I put it in #2.

    “My wife of 35 years”, “My friend of several years”, etc. is another matter. That kind of expression is idiomatic, but the meaning is different. (And since it’s a common way of putting it, I don’t really agree that it’s ambiguous.)
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    “My wife of 35 years”, “My friend of several years”, etc. is another matter. That kind of expression is idiomatic, but the meaning is different. (And since it’s a common way of putting it, I don’t really agree that it’s ambiguous.)
    If you were to read an 18th/19th century novel “My wife of 35 years” could well mean "My 35 year-old wife", hence my comment. ;)
     
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