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  1. suprunp's Avatar
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    #1

    a hard dayís labor

    One by one they emerged, like miners returning to the surface after a hard dayís labor.
    (H. Murakami; 1Q84)

    I think that 'hard' modifies 'labor', 'day's' (descriptive genitive) modifies 'labor' and 'a' should go to 'labor' as well. But isn't 'labour' an uncountable noun?

    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    after / labor


    labor is modified by adjective: day's

    day's is modified by hard

    a tells that is is one specific hard day

    day's
    hard
    a

  2. Calis's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    But isn't 'labour' an uncountable noun?
    Yes, but "a hard day's" isn't specifying a quantity of labour, it's giving a description of the type of labour that took place.

    But "a day's" could be describing a quantity. It depends on how you look at it.

    [Not a teacher]

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    #4

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    A hard day's work is a standard idiom.

    Rover

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    Tending this forum is a labour of love.

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    #6

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Suprunp,

    (1) I have exciting news.

    (2) The second edition of Descriptive English Grammar (1954) has a similar noun phrase:

    The old man's sight.

    (a) Professors House and Harman parse it as:

    sight = the noun.

    man's = modifies "sight."

    the = modifies "man's."

    old = modifies "man's."

    (3) If you accept the scholars' explanation, then I guess that we can say:

    labor = the noun.

    day's = modifies "labor."

    a = modifies "day's."

    hard = modifies "day's."

    labor
    day's labor
    a day's labor
    a hard day's labor

    (4) This analyis is almost the same as susiedq's excellent parsing.

    *****

    (5) I believe that "labor" can be countable. Here are some examples from the Web:

    Hercules performed twelve labors.

    For all the saints, who from their labors rest.

    The Lineage, Life, and Labors of Jose Rizal, Philippine Patriot.

  4. suprunp's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    I have only two small questions, if I may.

    Can an item intervene between day's and labour?
    For example:

    'a hard day's back-breaking labour'.

    Can an item intervene between night's and sleep in the following example:

    'a tolerable night's sleep'

    a tolerable night's deep sleep

    Thanks.

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    #8

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Suprunp,

    (1) I, too, am waiting for someone to answer you.

    (2) Five minutes ago, I read something that I thought would delight you:

    "The Shanghai Translation Publishing House, the largest publisher of translated

    books in China, releases titles that it wouldn't have touched before [my emphasis]."

    It now translates Haruki Murakami's novels even though they have "too much sex."

    But an editor at that publishing house is quoted as saying: "Now we're willing to take

    risks."

    Source: The New Yorker magazine, February 6, 2012.

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    #9

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    I have only two small questions, if I may.

    Can an item intervene between day's and labour?
    For example:

    'a hard day's back-breaking labour'.

    Can an item intervene between night's and sleep in the following example:

    'a tolerable night's sleep'

    a tolerable night's deep sleep

    Thanks.
    I don't see why not.

  5. suprunp's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: a hard dayís labor

    My thoughts about this particular genitive were, and I'm afraid still are that it is, as you could have surmised from my first post, descriptive genitive and, therefore, acts as a modifier rather than a determinative.

    For example:
    a women's college > a college for women
    a summer's day > a day in the summer, a summer day.*

    One of the distinguishing marks of the descriptive genitive is the fact that any modifiers and/or determiners preceding it generally belong to the head noun, rather than to the genitive noun. This means that in the following structure his and old modify cottage:
    his old shepherd's cottage.
    (Compare: his old friend's cottage)*

    On top of this no item can be put in between shepherd's and cottage.

    Having said this I would rather liken 'a hard day's labor' or 'a tolerable night's sleep' to 'his old shepherd's cottage' than to 'the old man's sight'.

    If I'm wrong and my logic is flawed please do say it so that I could memorise it once and for all.

    Thanks.

    [*A Comprehensive Grammar of The English Language]
    Last edited by suprunp; 02-Feb-2012 at 17:43.

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