Volume 42, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper considers the relationship between synchronic variation and language change in the context of the existential and possessive constructions in Modern Hebrew, which exhibit a normative – colloquial alternation. The study examines usage patterns across age groups and time periods, as represented in spoken-language corpora. It shows that the non-normative construction is used extensively in the contemporary speech of adults. Moreover, a comparison of the use of the normative – colloquial alternations by two populations, children and adults, in different time periods, provides evidence to suggest that these constructions are undergoing language change. A cross-linguistic perspective lends additional support: across languages the expression of existence involves non-canonical structures, which are particularly susceptible to language variation and, possibly, language change.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): agreement; corpus; existentials; language change; Modern Hebrew; possessives; subjecthood; variation
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