This "paper money aristocracy" of bankers and investors [apposition?]

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runingsnail

Member
Chinese
This "paper money aristocracy" of bankers and investors manipulated the banking system for their own profit, Democrats claimed, and sapped the nation's virtue by encouraging speculation and the desire for sudden, unearned wealth.
In this sentence, "paper money aristocracy" and 'bankers and investors ' are appositive?
Can I say it in this way.
This "paper money aristocracy", bankers and investors, manipulated the banking.....
Thx
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think you could call this an appositive, Runingsnail, as long as your definition of appositive allows for prepositions. Often writers separate appositives with nothing more than commas: Bankers and investors, the paper money aristocracy, manipulated ...

    However, the term "appositive oblique" is sometimes used to describe such phrases as "the city of New Orleans". By this definition, your example is an appositive.

    This definition comes from Wikipedia's article on "apposition": "Appositive oblique", a prepositional phrase with of as in: the month of December, the sin of pride, or the City of New York.
     
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    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I must dissent from owlman's advice that "paper money aristocracy" and "bankers and investors" are appositives. "Of bankers and investors" is a definition of "paper money aristocracy," not just another phrase for the same thing. The definition is made by listing the components of the "paper money aristocracy."

    Another example of this structure, also concerning American political history, would be "This coalition of Southern racists and northern liberals won the presidency seven out of nine times between 1932 and 1964." Here, too "of ..." explains what the coalition was, just as "of banker and investors" explains what the "paper money aristocracy" was. While both sentences can be understood if "of" is replaced by a comma, I can't recommend that in either case. One could put the definition within em dashes: "This coalition—Southern racists and northern liberals—won the presidency ..."

    But I don't think either definition is an "appositive."
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Your reply is interesting, Fabulist. I hope some of our other grammar gurus weigh in on this one. (Mind you, I'm not referring to myself as any sort of authority on grammar.)

    I hesitated to call it an appositive myself before I looked at the Wikipedia article. I'll start searching grammar websites for useful opinions on the topic.

    If others share Wiki's definition, then this sort of phrase seems to be an appositive:

    the city of New Orleans = New Orleans, the city, is...
    the paper money aristocracy of bankers and investors =
    Bankers and investors, the paper money aristocracy,...

    "Of" here can't refer to possession. New Orleans doesn't own the city. It is the city. Bankers and investors don't own the paper money aristocracy. They are the paper money aristocracy. Where do we draw the line? A desk of wood certainly doesn't mean that a desk is wood.
     
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    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    "City of New Orleans" isn't what I remember being taught was an appositive, either.

    The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says, under "APPOSITIVE, APPOSITION,"
    "A word, phrase, or clause that has the same referent and the same or a similar grammatical function as a preceding word or phrase is siad to be an appositive, in apposition with that preceding word or phrase: in My father, that tall man over there, always votes Republican, the words that tall man over there form a phrasal appositive for father. Her name, Arabella, was also her mother's name, illustrates a single-word appositive. In This news, that my brother is getting married, astonished me, the words enclosed in commas are a clausal appositive."

    I don't know if there is a neat grammatical term for "of New Orleans" in "City of New Orleans," apart from a prepositional phrase. Together, "City" and "of New Orleans" constitute a title, in which "City" defines a kind of organization and "of New Orleans" tells the name of the city. This is most important in cases like "State of New York" and "City of New York." The same construction is used in royal and noble titles: King of France, Duke of York, Count of Monte Cristo.

    Here's an example of example of what I understand to be an appositive. "Katrina was bearing down on a large city. The city, New Orleans, had been warned but was unprepared."

    Perhaps removing "of" does creates appositives in the cases of "aristocracy, bankers and investors" or "coalition, Southern racists and northern liberals." But I don't think they are appositives with "of."

    Although the Columbia Guide doesn't say so, my understanding of appositives is that you can remove them without affecting the structure or meaning of the sentence, or substitute one for the other. While you could substitute "bankers and investors" for "This 'monied aristocracy,'" the OP sentence would not make sense if it began "Of bankers and investors manipulated ..."
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Fabulist. I was editing my post as you added your post. So far, all the sites I've found are quoting the Wikipedia article word for word, which isn't encouraging. I'm sorry I don't have your guide at hand, but I definitely understand your hesitation in accepting Wiki's "appositive oblique" without independent confirmation. I'll keep searching. :)

    [edit] This quote from Quirk and Greenbaum's "A Student's Grammar of the English Language"* (p. 376) supports the position that the "of-genitive" can be used to express apposition: "But, as we saw in 5.50, many relationships find expression through the of-genitive, and one that deserves brief consideration here is the appositive relation (17.27) which in fact resembles a be sentence":
    "The pleasure of your company ~ Your company is a pleasure"


    * Sidney Greenbaum, Randolph Quirk, A Student's Grammar of the English Language [Essex: Longman Group UK Limited, 1990]
     
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    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I don't think it's useful to consider either of these as appositives. There are no doubt arguments that apposition is occurring here, but there is a risk of the term being considered so widely as to be of little practical use.

    This is how I see these phrases: "Paper money aristocracy" is a noun phrase; paper is used attributively (like an adjective) to modify money, and "paper money", a noun phrase in itself, modifies aristocracy in the same way. I think of stops "bankers and investors" from being an appositive: it means "consisting of".

    The phrase in green above is an appositive phrase: it's not part of the noun, but gives external information about it. Another form of appositive is "Your friend John". John is the appositive and defines, restrictively, "your friend", but is not part of a noun phrase "friend John".
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'm really glad that you popped in to give your opinion, MM. I can't find much on Google that addresses the topic in any depth. I sure understand your comment about the term being used too loosely, yet I'm still flummoxed by the "identity" issue.

    I had also always considered the preposition to serve as a sort of wall between one noun or noun phrase and another. Most comments about appositives say no more than that they are two nouns set side by side, which doesn't seem that convincing. Why does that little word "of" prevent apposition when two phrases are merely restatements of the same subject?

    I hope others will stop by to give their views on this one.
     
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