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Aug17-10, 09:44 PM
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Quote Quote by Studiot View Post
They are both 'victims of drink', one directly , one indirectly. I would contend that only the direct victim is one of 'drink's victims'
I'm not sure why you would read any specification of causal proximity in the construction chosen. They seem equivalent to me.

I think the confusion about personification above probably stems from a confusion between the possessive and the subjective genitive, the difference between "my wife's shoes" and "my wife's cooking." The first expresses a relationship of ownership but the second expresses a relationship of causal origination. An inanimate object like "drink" can't own something, but it can certainly be the subject of the verb "to victimize."

As for "John Smith's tale" and "the tale of John Smith," those are also identical. They were only made different in context by the additional stipulations that one was told by John Smith and the other was told by a biographer. There is nothing in the construction that tells you anything about who told the tale or even if the tale was ever told at all. These both seem to be instances of the objective genitive, indicating the tale is about John Smith, not the possessive indicating the tale belongs to him, although there is ambiguity again due to the fact that John Smith is a person who can own a tale. "The Tale of Two Cities" is quite unambiguously objective genitive because two cities can't own a tale.