Volume 42, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This study examines the on-line emergence of insubordinate clauses in Hebrew conversation as constrained by local interactional contingencies, questioning traditional notions of grammatical ‘subordination’ and contributing to conceptions of grammar as a locally sensitive, temporally unfolding resource for social interaction. The clauses examined are syntactically unintegrated (unembedded in any matrix clause), or loosely-integrated (cannot be viewed unambiguously as constituting a relative, complement, or adverbial clause), yet they all begin with - – the general ‘subordinating conjunction’ in traditional Modern Hebrew grammar. All 102 insubordinate - clauses found throughout a 5.5 hour audio-recorded corpus were classified according to their discourse function: modal, elaborative, or evaluative/epistemic. Leaving aside the modal type, the remaining insubordinate - clauses ( = 70, 69%) are shown to emerge on-line while speakers are busy performing a variety of tasks and responding to local interactional contingencies. In all of these cases - functions as a generic ‘wildcard’ tying back to immediately prior discourse and projecting an elaboration/evaluation of it, in either same- or other-speaker talk. The findings concerning insubordinate clauses suggest a usage-based perspective also on canonical subordinate clauses, positioning canonical and syntactically unintegrated clauses at two ends of a continuum.


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