double possessive

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by TalomedIvrit, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. A book I'm reading has double possessives in sentences. For example,

    אשתו של אליעזר

    which would mean "Eliezer's his wife" (literally his wife of Eliezer). Why not just one possessive. i.e.,

    אשה של אליעזר



    but not both.

    Is this "double possessive" common in spoken Hebrew, or just in literature?
  2. tapuz New Member

    The double possessive, it's higher register Hebrew used in (mainly) in literary context.
  3. arielipi Senior Member

    tapuz - how else would you say it then?
    its just the way it is
    אפשר להגיד אשת אליעזר but *that* is high register.
  4. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    As pointed out, it's a higher register used mainly for literary or formal contexts. However, there are some specific cases where you often hear it in colloquial forms too- one of these being the one you describe (אשתו של...). It seems to me that colloquial usage is often in the form of a set expression; as in English the word "whom" is hardly ever used colloquially (and often not even formally) and is replaced with "who", except in the set expression of "to whom it may concern..."
  5. origumi Senior Member

    האשה של אליעזר - low register
    אשתו של אליעזר - mid
    אשת אליעזר - high register

    But there are many example where one of the three is preferred in contrary to the formula.
  6. arielipi Senior Member

    I mostly hear mid register in older words and low register in modern words.
  7. Codinome Shlomo Senior Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    This is regarding only to formality, not to scholarity level, right?
  8. arielipi Senior Member

    Its hard to answer because in most things hebrew is uniformed across socia-economic groups, but concerning possessive field high register is almost entirely said on formal forms, and the other two are respected by matching group.

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