1. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

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    a question on titles

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by katina, Jun 22, 2018.

    I was just talking about choosing titles in another forum when someone brought up
    star wars
    and so I was thinking about how this was formulated and the question is this:

    what is /or is there a difference between

    star wars

    and
    the wars of the star

    would you consider them to be the same or different?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking if they have the same English meaning, or if they have similar value as titles?

    Either way, they're definitely different.
     
  3. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

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    the question is:

    do they have the same meaning?
    if they are different then what is the reason? :)

    I am thinking of another titles

    the war of the worlds.

    if I turned it round it become
    worlds war?!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I remain sort of lost. Is this about titles or about English grammar and the use of adjectives and modifiers?

    In "star wars" and "worlds war", the structure of the phrase strongly suggests that the first word is an adjective. Thus, there's a war that has something to do with a star or stars, or a war that has something to do with a world or worlds.

    In "the war of the worlds"or "the war of the star" it's more specific--it strongly suggests that the entities that are at war, are the worlds, or the star.

    In The War Of The Worlds, the title does indeed refer to a war between two worlds--Mars and Earth, I believe. So the long version makes sense. The alternative version would make less sense.

    In Star Wars, the title refers to wars that happen to be among the stars. So the short version makes sense.

    Sometimes you can flip a phrase. "A chicken dinner" can be flipped to "A dinner of chicken." But I don't think that your sample phrases flip very comfortably.
     
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  5. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

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    it is about grammar. I am aware that
    the wars of the star
    is short for
    star wars.
    that is what I was thaught. the articles of THE and OF are being substituted so the make the sentence less cumbersome when talking.

    that is exactly the point I was trying to make,
    according to your explanations
    flipping these two titles do not apply to the same example you gave.
    which makes me think there is ambiguity here because grammatically I should be able to swap them and still should make sense. o_O
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    There is definitely ambiguity.

    "A chicken dinner" is a dinner composed of, among other things, chicken.
    "An elegant dinner" is not a dinner composed of elegant; it is a dinner that can be described as elegant.
    "A Boston Market dinner" is not a dinner composed of Boston Market or a dinner that can be described as Boston Market; it's a dinner that was cooked and sold by Boston Market.

    'chicken', 'elegant', and 'Boston Market' are all adjectives, in terms of their functional use in the sentence. But they're still very different, and the sentences using them can't be "flipped" in the same way.
     
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  7. katina

    katina Banned Contributor

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    so in other words what you are saying is that common words are fine but specific or proper nouns it is not?
    chicken being a common word
    and
    Boston Market being a proper noun.

    I am sure you can have
    a dinner of elegance and just get away with it ?! haha :p
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    That might be one kinda-sorta guideline, but it's not sufficient. I could replace "a Boston Market dinner" with "a restaurant dinner". You could barely get away with "a dinner of elegance" but you couldn't get away with "a dinner of restaurant".
     
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  9. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    "Star wars" is using a noun adjunct. You have two nouns, but the first (star, the noun adjunct) is functionally an adjective. It describes the war and tells what type it is.
    "The wars of the star" is genitive. It would be the equivalent to saying "star's wars." Genitive case can show many different aspects: ownership, origination, composition, etc.

    You could have a star with a thousand wars taking place around it (origination), or a war made of stars (sounds like something the Xeelee would do, hate those guys), or a war being fought by a star (for some reason I think of Sean Penn). I think you can force any meaning from one to the other depending on context, so they're kind of alike. The first is more elegant, but that's not always preferable.

    Probably the biggest difference is the ending word. The owner in the first is "wars," and in the second it's "star." You have a war of a certain type, and then you have a star with a certain significance. It's a shift of emphasis.

    It's funny that there's some much adjective work going on with nothing but nouns pulling the weight.
     
  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Banned Contributor

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    Off topic but Star Wars has nothing to do with stars.
    And secondly, int the other option would make me
    think of a Dyson Swarm (AKA Dyson Sphere) going
    to war amongst themselves. Which would be interesting
    to depict such a large scale endeavor of people in the
    tens to hundreds of billions fighting around a star that
    they live around.
     
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  11. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think the rules would be the following:
    1. Any noun can take adjective position in the structure <adjective> <noun>. E.g. “a restaurant dinner”, “a Boston Market Dinner”
    2. Only nouns reflecting an attribute can appear at the end of the sentence in the structure <noun> of <noun>. E.g. “a dinner of elegance”, “a dinner of quality”. The sentence “a dinner of restaurant” doesn’t make sense because “restaurant” isn’t an attribute of the dinner
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Except you can also have "A dinner of chicken." There it's an ingredients/composition thing--dinner of chicken/chicken dinner, necklace of gold/gold necklace, and so on.
     
  13. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Interestingly, "a necklace of gold" sounds less cumbersome to me than "a dinner of chicken". In both cases, I think you could argue that 'gold' and 'chicken' are attributes of the necklace and dinner respectively. I think the former moreso, because gold is also a colour, and the necklace literally is gold. The dinner on the other hand, isn't literally the chicken. The dinner is the chicken plus the other ingredients plus the preparation plus the serving plus the intention to eat. It's not a dinner without all those other things. So to say that it is of chicken doesn't quite sit right. Grammatically it's correct, but it sounds weird to me.
     
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  14. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Agree with @mashers - no matter how many times I read "a dinner of chicken", it still sounds very very wrong to me. I guess because we do not generally have chicken by itself. "A dinner composed entirely of chicken" makes a lot more sense. Or perhaps if "a dinner of chicken" was used as a creative joke.

    But I in no way can even pretend to be able to explain why I feel this way. I bow to @ChickenFreak 's superior explaining skills and grammatical knowledge. (not being sarcastic. I'm actually really impressed with just how succinctly and clearly you can explain things and think up good, differentiating examples)
     
  15. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I’m really glad you tagged me in this, as I had been thinking further about why “a dinner of chicken” sounded weird and had come to a similar conclusion, but forgot to reply here. I was thinking that “a dinner of chicken and vegetables” sounds fine, but “a dinner of chicken” sounds odd. And I think it’s for the reason you stated - “a dinner of chicken” sounds like the dinner consisted only of chicken, which would be strange.

    Having said this, the phrase “a lunch of sandwiches” sounds just as weird, though it wouldn’t be at all unusual to have only sandwiches for lunch. So maybe there is no clear-cut rule for this. None of them are grammatically incorrect. It is perhaps just one of those quirks of language which can’t be explained!
     
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  16. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe it's about one word versus a phrase?

    Now that you've said it, "a dinner of chicken and vegetables" does sound much more normal to me than "a dinner of chicken"--even though I have less problem with the chicken-only option than I think you do. This may be because it's not really rare for me to have "a dinner of chicken". :) My guy will say, "Um...side dish?" and I'll shrug and grudgingly heat up some frozen peas.

    Maybe in English, or American English, or whatever, we prefer to use the adjective form--"a chicken dinner", "a burger lunch". But the adjective form is awkward with more than one thing--"a chicken and vegetable dinner", "a burger and fries lunch". So then "a dinner of chicken and vegetables" or "a lunch of burgers and fries" feels like the right option?

    I don't know.
     
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  17. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I did wonder if it was a one-word vs. phrase thing, but there are some single words that do work in that position. Your example of “a necklace of gold” is one of them. So I don’t think there is a rule for this. Sometimes a single word sounds fine, other times it sounds weird. It’s probably just down to what is common usage and convention.
     
  18. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think 'chicken dinner' has become—in our western culture anyway—the name for a certain kind of chicken-based dinner, usually centred on a roasted chicken with various trimmings. We don't say we're serving 'a chicken dinner' when we're serving a stir-fry with diced chicken in it, do we?

    I reckon this is not so much a grammatical issue as an issue of common usage.
     
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