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>
> When I took German in high school, about a hundred years ago, I remember
> wondering if the English possessive marker ('s) might not be a contraction
> of "his", as in "the man his car" => "The man 'is car." => "The man's car."
>

it's actually just the "-es" genitive ending from a-stem nouns in Old
English.

so "the man's dog" in old english would be

þæs mannes hund
the-GEN man-GEN dog(-NOM)

(*mann* is not properly an a-stem but in the GEN singular it's treated like
one.)

modern german still (sort of) uses the cognate -es genitival ending.

das Auto des Mannes
the-NOM car the-GEN man-GEN

but few people would use that in speech nowadays.

it's worth noting, though, that in the grand (proto-indo-european) scheme
of things, the -s in "his" and the genitive -es/-'s are ultimately the same
thing. just a masculine genitive suffix (like rēx/rēg*is* in latin
("king"); and anēr/andr*os* in greek ("man"); and putrah/putr*as*ya in
sanskrit ("son").

cheers
matt



On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> When I took German in high school, about a hundred years ago, I remember
> wondering if the English possessive marker ('s) might not be a contraction
> of "his", as in "the man his car" => "The man 'is car." => "The man's car."
>
> I never found out.
>
> --gary
>
> On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 8:04 AM, Armin Buch <[log in to unmask]
> >wrote:
>
> > There's a construction in colloquial German that might be of interest:
> >
> > dem Mann [sein Auto]
> > the.DAT. man(.DAT) his.NOM car.NOM
> >
> >
>