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Anchor: We're live today in the Democratic Republic of Niberia. As we go on air, we're getting reports that thousands of troops...loyal to General Charles Motomba's Revolutionary Freedom Front... are moving towards the capital of Dénué.

What does "capital of Dénué" mean?

Source: The International (2009)

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    The modern tendency is to discard of in such contexts. Hence ...are moving towards the capital Dénué Where there could be a comma after "capital", more explicitly calling attention to the fact that "the capital" and "Dénué" are in an appositive relationship; both noun phrases refer to the same thing. Aug 22 at 17:04
  • @FumbleFingers Sounds like an answer to me
    – gotube
    Aug 23 at 14:55
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    @gotube: It's a fairly uncommon usage that I don't know much about. I think it's definition 22 in the full OED (took me long enough just to get that far through the huge list! :) Connecting two nouns, of which the former denotes the class of which the latter is a particular example, or of which the former is a connotative and the latter a denotative term (i.e. genitive of definition or specializing genitive). We still sometimes say things like the city of Dublin, but the OED refers to ‘the River Thames’, formerly ‘the River of Thames’, which sounds totally "alien" to me. Aug 23 at 17:16
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In this context, it could have two meanings.

The most literal interpetation is that the rebels are moving towards some unnamed city which is the capital of a region or province called Dénué.

However what the anchor person probably meant is that the rebels are moving towards the capital city of Niberia, and this city is called Dénué. If you were writing this you would probably say "are moving towards the capital, Dénué". However a comma is difficult to pronounce so the anchor inserted "of" without really thinking about it.

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    I agree that the second case is what is probably meant, and "the capital of Dénué" is shorthand for "the capital, which has the name of Dénué."
    – randomhead
    Aug 22 at 17:04
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From the full (subscription only) Oxford English Dictionary...

of (preposition) sub-definition 22
Connecting two nouns, of which the former denotes the class of which the latter is a particular example, or of which the former is a connotative and the latter a denotative term (i.e. genitive of definition or specializing genitive).

The OED's most recent citation for the usage is The Independent (newspaper) 12 Oct 1995...

Lift-surfing was first suspected in the London borough of Greenwich eight years ago.

Apparently the format was once used in contexts like the river of Thames - we no longer say that, and the capital of Dublin has become quite rare. But the small village of XYZ is still "natural".


EDIT: I forgot to address the What does it mean? aspect of the question. As @Paul's answer points out, in principle the word of can normally be replaced by just a comma (or a dash, or the second term could be enclosed in brackets). The two noun phrases before and after that point are in an "appositive" relationship, where both refer to the same thing. So you could think of of here as having the meaning aka=also known as / which is called, if that helps

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