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I have two phrases and I want to know the meaning of each one.

Phrase 1: "Moroccan top speaker"

Phrase 2: "Moroccan's top speaker"

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  • @Raj33 yes, the first phrase is a possessive form. but I have an ambiguity with the second, It looks like a possessive form also.
    – R. Akb
    Jan 13 '18 at 18:01
  • Sorry, I didn't know about the place "Morocco". So "Moroccan" is already in a possessive form, so you don't need another possessive"'s". "Moroccan top speaker" or "Morocco's top speaker" is fine I think.
    – Raj 33
    Jan 13 '18 at 18:22
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    Thanks a lot @Raj33, and if we have just "Morocco" instead of "Moroccan".
    – R. Akb
    Jan 13 '18 at 18:27
  • If you want to use just "Morocco" then you can say "Morocco's top speaker". You can refer below Cookie Monster's answer for detailed explanation.
    – Raj 33
    Jan 13 '18 at 18:37
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The difference is that in the first sentence Moroccan is a descriptive word. In other words, it's an adjective. It tells you what kind of top speaker the person in question is. He is Moroccan which means that he comes from the country of Morocco.

In the second sentence, you probably want to say Morocco's top speaker and not Moroccan's top speaker. Morocco's is the possessive form of Morocco. It denotes the fact that the person belongs to that place. That's a common phrasing when talking about things or people that originate from certain places. For example:

He is America's richest man.

www.baidu.com is China's most popular search engine.

Usain Bolt is the world's fastest runner.

(a/the) Moroccan's top speaker, although strange-sounding, makes nevertheless perfect grammatical sense. From a semantic perspective, one possible interpretation could be that this top speaker is literally owned (like a car or a house) by another person who is Moroccan. What that is supposed to mean is your job to tell us.

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  • thank you Cookie, I have just one question if we have "Morocco" instead of "Moroccan" in both phrases (because the original word is a name of an institution not "Moroccan", I just manipulate the example).
    – R. Akb
    Jan 13 '18 at 18:40
  • "Morocco top speaker" is not grammatical whatever your intended meaning. Jan 13 '18 at 18:51
  • This is a question that's a little bit different. And the meaning also depends on the article placed in front of the phrase. Putting aside what it would mean if we put an indefinite article in front of the phrase, the MIT top speaker and MIT's top speaker would roughly mean the same thing because logically there can be only one top speaker at a time. Jan 13 '18 at 18:51
  • My school organizes an event and we want a theme for the competition. the participants are from our school and other schools also. in the MIT's top speaker will be a person from MIT. whereas, MIT top speaker will be a person from MIT or other schools (my understanding of this phrase is that the event is just organized from MIT and winners are from whatever school). thanks for your time.
    – R. Akb
    Jan 13 '18 at 19:11
  • "Harvard's speaker at the discussion held at Yale" shows that it is perfectly possible to distinguish clearly between which organization a person is affiliated with over the long term and which organization provides the venue for an event in which that person participated. It is becoming increasingly unclear what meaning you want to convey. Jan 13 '18 at 21:41
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"Moroccan" is primarily used as an adjective, and, when used adjectivally, it cannot take a possessive. When "Moroccan" is used as a noun, meaning a native or citizen of Morocco, it can take a possessive. So which is correct depends on what meaning is intended.

For this question, the intended meaning is hard to discern because "top speaker" does not convey a clear concept in English and no article is provided. I suspect that the phrase is a literal but unidiomatic translation from another language. "Moroccan top speaker" means either one of the top speakers who are from Morocco or the sole top speaker who is from Morocco. "Moroccan's top speaker" means the top speaker who (or possibly that) belongs to a Moroccan person.

EDIT: I restricted my answer to the choices given. I see Cookie Monster has looked at other options. What all this indicates to me is that a more helpful answer awaits the definition of "top speaker" and the supply of an article.

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