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I came across the anime/manga title 「進撃の巨人」 and I am a bit confused about the usage of the の particle there.

I know that の has several uses, but I'm not sure which one applies in this case. I looked at the possible ways の can be used with a noun and tried figuring out which one might apply:

  • It seems like it would indicate possession, but that would make it "giants of charge", which sounds weird to me (as opposed to "charge of the giants", 巨人の進撃, which is what I would have expected).

  • I know の can also be used for nominalization, but 進撃 is already a noun, so that doesn't seem likely to me. This isn't really a subordinate clause either.

  • Wikipedia also lists another function of の, with the following example:

    車のトヨタ - Toyota the car [company]

    This one doesn't seem to apply in this case either, I think.

None of these possible meanings of の make sense to me in this case. Can you help me understand how/why の is used in this title?

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You've already figured out what's going on in your first bullet point - the の in 進撃の巨人 functions in its usual role of forming a 連体修飾語{れん.たい.しゅう.しょく.ご} (a modifier; の's role in forming possessives is one example of this function of の).

The only issue is that you've done your translation in kind of awkward English. Rather than "giants of charge", you probably want something more like "the charging giants" (which is, after all, basically what the anime/manga is about).

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Thanks. After I thought about it for a while, interpreting it as "the charging giants" did start to make sense. I was just being too literal in translating it to English. –  Liquid_Fire Aug 29 '13 at 18:05
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Did you mean 連体 rather than 連用? It appears to be modifying a 体言, not a 用言. –  snailboat Dec 27 '13 at 0:49
    
@snailboat Whoops. I certainly did. Fixing. –  senshin Dec 27 '13 at 1:23
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Don't try to translate の too literally. For example, 友達のようこ means "my friend Yoko," not "my friend's Yoko."

My (possibly flawed) understanding is that in this case, の serves the same purpose as in 巨人の進撃 but reversing the order changes the emphasis slightly, so that 巨人 becomes the focus rather than 進撃.

I'm sure you already noticed that the English version of the title ("Attack on Titan") is a mistranslation (possibly intentional?)

As an aside, the anime is absolutely fantastic, although I haven't read the manga yet.

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Much as I would like to believe that "Attack on Titan" is an intentional mistranslation, I think that somebody at the publishing company was just terrible at English. (Before I knew what this was about, I figured "Attack on Titan? That sounds like a pretty cool sci-fi show about an alien invasion of Saturn's largest moon." I can't imagine that's what anybody intended. :P) –  senshin Aug 28 '13 at 23:34
    
@senshin It's probably just wishful thinking on my part. I also figured it was a sci-fi the first time I saw the title. –  ThisSuitIsBlackNot Aug 29 '13 at 13:40
    
This "Attack's titan" is troubling me too. I vote this answer up since sometimes の is used in this weird reverse manner, not like in English. I don't know why. Sometimes first thing is like an adjective, if a teacher is female it's 女性の先生 "female's teacher" = "female teacher" = "teacher who is a female". So could it be "Advancing/attacking titan(s)"? –  dimadesu Sep 4 '13 at 9:40
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