Trump’s impeachment / impeachment of Trump

Discussion in 'English Only' started by PureLand, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. PureLand

    PureLand Senior Member

    "In the past, Laurence Tribe has said President Donald Trump is vulnerable to impeachment. But following the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Tribe — a Harvard Law School professor and one of the nation’s most prominent constitutional scholars — says Trump’s impeachment is now an imperative.

    In an opinion piece Saturday for the Washington Post, Tribe said Trump’s offenses (potential violations of the emoluments clause and interference with FBI’s Russia investigation) were piling up and called for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to launch an impeachment investigation."

    Why is it Trump’s impeachment rather than an impeachment of Trump? They don't seem to mean the same.

    Trump's impeachment strikes me as "an impeachment initiated by Trump"-just as you wouldn't take Mary's complaint to mean "a complaint against Mary"; the compliant is made by Mary. Thank you :)
  2. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    They not only seem to me to be identical, but your an impeachment of Trump seems very unnatural in this particular context. (AE)
  3. PureLand

    PureLand Senior Member

    Thank you for your answer, Sdgraham! :D But why are they identical in meaning? And why does an impeachment of Trump seem very unnatural in this particular context? (AE) Thank you :)

    I am confused :confused: Thank you :)
  4. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Both expressions refer to the institution of impeachment proceedings.
    Speaking and understanding language involve the ability to understand context. It's obvious to a native speaker that "Trump's impeachment" cannot be anything else but impeachment of Trump in your referenced sentence.

    The Saxon genitive can be perplexing to learners, but it provides an easy, concise way of expressing a thought and use of the "of" construction often makes the sentence awkward - or water it down.

    Such is the case with your "fix," in my opinion.
  5. manfy Senior Member

    German - Austria
    That's because language doesn't work on syntactical rules alone; semantics plays an equally important role.

    If you look at syntax alone, then 'his impeachment' and 'his complaint' appear identical; both have the form of <possessive determiner> + <noun>.
    However, if you take the meaning of the noun into account, you'll notice that impeachment puts more focus on the person being impeached, whereas complaint stresses the person doing the complaining.
    Since there is no mathematical logic behind this, it may be hard to grasp and it certainly cannot be generalized for every noun there is in a simple grammar rule.

    I know this is a poor explanation, but it's the only one I can think of.
    On second thought, maybe complaint focusses on the complainer because to complain doesn't take a direct object?? (it only takes a prepositional object)

  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes, I think that's something to do with it.

    I recall, in a long-ago post, summarising advice on genitives from the corpus-based Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English.

    One element of the advice was
    If you can translate the construction into a sentence with a verb, then
    5(a) "X's" is more likely if X would be the subject: John accepted :arrow: John's acceptance
    5(b) "of X" is more likely if X would be the object: someone murdered a child :arrow: the murder of a child.

    Note that these are tendencies, not hard-and-fast rules.
  7. Englishmypassion

    Englishmypassion Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Applying which it should have been "impeachment of Trump" but "Trump's impeachment" sounds fine, too.
  8. PureLand

    PureLand Senior Member

    That's very clear. Context and semantics are just as important as syntax. Got it!

    Thank you all so much for your elaborate explanations, Sdgraham! :D Manfy! :D and Loob! :D
    I agree, Englishmypassion! :p Thanks for your comment!

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