Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238
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The Hebrew negation adverbial ‘not’ seems to function very differently in Biblical Hebrew than it does in Contemporary Hebrew. This paper addresses this difference and discusses its evolution. The main question addressed in this paper is: How has Hebrew , originally an exceptive marker (with sentential scoping), ended up functioning solely as a privative in contemporary Hebrew? First, this paper argues that the biblical usage of was expanded and turned into a polyfunctional (or ‘polysemous’) item. This happened via a constructionalization process which led to grammatical changes (‘grammaticalization’): The initially implicated negation (via a generalized implicature) turned explicit (semantic). In addition, in Hebrew’s later periods, the usage of was narrowed and it became a privative. Thus, firstly, a pragmatically motivated path of constructionalization of in Biblical Hebrew is suggested. That is, the “pragmatic negation” that arose via a generalized implicature shifted to the semantic level (performing semantic negation, explicit negation). Secondly, ’s functions in post-biblical Hebrew periods are outlined, tracing its narrowing functions until its fixation in Contemporary Hebrew as a privative.


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