Martin Kochanski wrote:
> To expand: "su" can mean "his" "her" "their" as well as the
> polite "your". In this context, "el marino, el hermano de su
> madre" risks being felt as a complete phrase in itself (the
> sailor, the brother of his mother), so you need "de usted" to
> anchor it firmly to the second person. [...]
But, if the problem was just avoiding the ambiguity, he could simply have
dropped the ambiguous pronoun: "el hermano de *la* madre de usted". So, I
guess that the double possessive "su" + "de usted" is for emphasis.
Alternatively, it mimics a conversational situation: he says his sentence,
realizes it is ambiguous, and adds in a hurry an ungrammatical
specification. But this would probably have been marked by punctuation: "el
hermano de su madre... ˇde usted!... el que despareció."
BTW, I wonder, isn't all this sliiiiiiiiiiiightly off topic? :-)
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