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The workaholic's executive's wife ... Options
onsen
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 5:53:43 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/2017
Posts: 346
Neurons: 5,531
Hello,

Quote:
The workaholic's executive's wife beseeched him to spend more time with their teenaged son.
(Basic Word List, Barron’s)

I suppose 'the workaholic' and 'executive' are one and the same person.
I’d like to confirm it.

Quote:
Several of the company’s executives are under investigation.
(Longman Language Activator)


The phrase 'the company’s executives' seems to be normal. But the phrase 'the workaholic's executive' seems strange a bit.

Are there any other examples similar in construction to the phrase 'the workaholic's executive'?

Thank you.
thar
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 6:07:57 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 18,911
Neurons: 76,535
You are right. That is an error.


If there is only one person, the 'executive', then he is a workaholic executive. That is an adjective describing him or her.

[edit - Yes, executives are female and male - it is not a gendered noun. And a female can have a wife, in many places. Just fighting against the sexism that dictionaries seem happy to promote even though the rest of society has moved on. Shame on you
The workaholic executive's husband also wants his wife to spend less time at her job.]



Only a noun can have a 's. So an "a workaholic's executive" would be an executive that belongs to the workaholic.

That makes no sense. It is just a mistake. That apostrophe s should not be there.

Words like alcoholic, and the terms that copy that pattern (workaholic) can be used as nouns, so you can say 'the workaholic's wife'. The wife of the workalic. Where a workaholic is a person.
But here the noun is the executive - she is the executive's wife.

If it is one person, then it is only one noun, and anything else is acting as an adjective. Only a noun acting as a noun can be the possessor and have the 's.


If there are two possessives, then it is two nouns, two people.

eg
The executive's wife's lover
is the lover of the wife of the executive!
(Well, he is a workaholic...)

But you rarely use two "apostrophe s" possessives - it just gets too clumsy.

And here there are not two people. That just doesn't work the way it is written. It is clealy meant to indicate one person - a workaholic executive who has a wife. It is bad mistake by whoever wrote this.


"The company's executives" is fine. The are executives that 'belong to' (here meaning they work for) the company.
onsen
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 7:39:46 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/2017
Posts: 346
Neurons: 5,531
Thank you very much, thar.

Does the sentence in question assume that the terms 'husband' and 'wife' have nothing to do with 'male' and 'female'? (after reading the edit)
Then, how many people appear in the sentence?

BTW, the sentence is from edition 2017. (which gives 'The workaholic's executive's wife')
Edition 2012 gives the following sentence.

Quote:
The workaholic executive's wife beseeched him to spend more time with their teenaged son. [underlining added]
(edition 2012)

Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 7:43:42 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/4/2016
Posts: 731
Neurons: 3,662
Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
thar wrote:
You are right. That is an error.


If there is only one person, the 'executive', then he is a workaholic executive. That is an adjective describing him or her.

[edit - Yes, executives are female and male - it is not a gendered noun. And a female can have a wife, in many places.



Think
But they wouldn't have a son.
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 8:05:36 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/2016
Posts: 1,300
Neurons: 8,224
Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
Kirill Vorobyov wrote:
thar wrote:
You are right. That is an error.


If there is only one person, the 'executive', then he is a workaholic executive. That is an adjective describing him or her.

[edit - Yes, executives are female and male - it is not a gendered noun. And a female can have a wife, in many places.



Think
But they wouldn't have a son.


They might through adoption, sperm donation or other methods.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
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