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The Evolution of the Structure of Free Relative Clauses in Modern Hebrew: Internal Development and Contact Language Influence

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The article discusses the evolution of the syntax of Free Relative clauses ( FRs) in Modern Hebrew, from the beginning of the Revival period in the 1880s until the 1980s. Two different FRconstructions are used during this period, one originating in Biblical Hebrew, and the other in Mishnaic Hebrew. The article points to two processes that affected these constructions and that have likely been influenced by the languages with which Modern Hebrew was in contact (Yiddish, Slavic). First, the Mishnaic construction gradually replaced the Biblical one. A factor favoring this process was the affinity of the Mishnaic construction to the structure of FRs in Yiddish and in Slavic. Second, the case marking of the Mishnaic construction (at least in direct object position) underwent a process of differentiation that encoded the semantic distinction between definite and universal FRinterpretations. The same semantic distinction is also structurally encoded in the Yiddish/Polish FRconstruction.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel ; 2: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel


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1. Azar Moshe The Syntax of Mishnaic Hebrew 1995 Jerusalem The Academy of the Hebrew Language / Haifa University (in Hebrew)
2. Bar-Ilan Responsa Project accessed January 3, 2015
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17. Strawson Peter F. "“On Referring”" Mind 1950 Vol 59 235 320 344

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