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I thought that の always had to modify a noun... so how come a sentence like the following is possible despite there being no nominalization of what follows の ?

たたみに布団を敷いて寝てみたものの、背中が痛くて寝られなかった。

Is this a different type of の? or does の work differently to how I imagined it? I there any elision??? If the ものの construction has no such explanation then I am ok with that, but if there is one I'd like to hear it.

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    In modern japanese, ものの is a lexicalized conjunction. Are you asking about etymology?
    – dainichi
    Nov 6, 2013 at 7:54

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As Tokyo Nagoya stated in his answer, in modern Japanese, ものの is considered one word, a 接続助詞 (conjunctive particle).

However, it does in fact consist of the noun 「もの」 and the genitive case-marking particle 「の」. There is no elision occurring. Generally speaking, your thoughts on how this particle works are correct: it takes two nouns (or noun-forms) and makes on larger noun-form.

However, the genitive case in Japanese can also mark the subject of an adnominal clause, for example:

  • 神の怒った日
  • 事故の起こるところ

These may look like they are connecting (神)の(怒こった日) and (事故)の(起こるところ), but what is actually happening is (神の怒こった)日 and (事故の起こった)ところ -- the 「の」 is marking the subject of those adnominal clauses. This form of subject marking has existed since before Old Japanese.

「ものの」 is attested from the Heian Period onward, and though I was unable to find any explanation of this construction in particular, I would hypothesize that it is related to the noun-marking function.

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  • "it takes two nouns" -- which nouns in this case? one may be もの, but what is the other?
    – jovanni
    Nov 6, 2013 at 8:24
  • Perfect. I will look into this further and try and change my understanding in other places that use の! Thankyou so much :)!
    – Nathan
    Nov 6, 2013 at 8:24
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    Perhaps the second nominal was the following clause? As I understand it, in classical Japanese a clause ending in 連体形 was essentially a nominalized clause. That's how the genitive が was able to attach to a clause, which led to it being reanalyzed as a conjunctive particle. It seems plausible that の could be playing a similar role here. (See Shibatani's The Languages of Japan pages 353-354 for some relevant historical information on の/が and the idea that 連体形-clauses could function as nominals.)
    – user1478
    Nov 6, 2013 at 8:59
  • @snailboat, interesting! This is the kind of insight I was hoping someone would bring to the table. So on top of が and の having some functional overlap as genitive/nominative markers, can we hypothesize that they also have functional overlap as "although"? If so, the next question would be whether ものが or just の have ever existed as conjunctions meaning "although".
    – dainichi
    Nov 6, 2013 at 15:27
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    @dainichi As far as I could find, の is not considered to have developed conjunctive properties like が has. However, interestingly, のに has a related meaning, which could potentially shed some light
    – rintaun
    Nov 7, 2013 at 0:45
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ものの is one word. It should be in your dictionary.

ものの is a conjunctive particle meaning けれども = "even though".

"Even though I tried to sleep by spreading futons on the tatami, I was unable to sleep because my back hurt."

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