The special status of <i>nif'al</i> in Hebrew

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The paper examines the special morphological and semantic features of <i>nifal</i> and shows that its semantic complexity matches its morphology: its basic template is composed of two distinct syllabic structures; its tense distribution is different from all the other templates and its conjugations resemble either the typical passive templates or the active and inchoative templates, depending on the tenses. From the semantic point of view, <i>nifal</i> shows a variety of meanings: passive, active, inchoative, reflexive, reciprocal, and sometimes some of its verbs are ambiguous like verbs in active templates. It also demonstrates special resemblance to <i>hitpael</i>. The unique status of <i>nifal</i> initially began as an historical development, but eventually, morphology led to the semantic ambiguity of the template.


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