Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics

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Subject: Language and Linguistics

Edited by: Geoffrey Khan
Associate editors: Shmuel Bolozky, Steven Fassberg, Gary A. Rendsburg, Aaron D. Rubin, Ora R. Schwarzwald, Tamar Zewi

The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day.
The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online features advanced search options, as well as extensive cross-references and full-text search functionality using the Hebrew character set. With over 850 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields.

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(3,920 words)

Author(s): Golinets, Viktor
1. General information Dageš (דָּגֵשׁ då̄gēš) is a diacritical mark used in the Tiberian Masoretic pointing system of Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic. Dageš performs the same functions in texts in both languages, namely, to denote (i) doubling of a consonant (except for א ʿalef / ʾ/, ה he / h/, ח et / /, ע ʿayin / ʿ/ and, with a few exceptions, ר reš / r/, and (ii) plosive pronunciation of the stops ב bet / b/, ג gimel / g/, ד dalet / d/, כ kaf / k/, פ pe / p/, and ת tav / t/ ( vox memoriaebeged kefet’ or ‘ begad kefat’). These two main functions of dageš were noticed by medieval Hebrew grammarians, …

Damascus Document

(532 words)

Author(s): Fassberg, Steven E.
The Damascus Document was discovered by Solomon Schechter in the Cairo Geniza in the last decade of the 19th century and was first published in 1910. The Geniza yielded two manuscripts of the document, Ms. A from the 10th century and Ms. B from the 11th or 12th century. Also known as CD (Cairo Damascus) or the Zadokite Document, it contains the views of a sect that left the ‘land of Judah’ and migrated to the ‘land of Damascus’, in keeping with the sect’s interpretation of Amos 5.27. The first p…

Dative: Biblical Hebrew

(2,412 words)

Author(s): Naudé, Jacobus A.
The dative is one of the case forms taken by a noun phrase (often a single noun or pronoun) in languages which express grammatical relationships by means of inflections (Butt 2006:12–22). The dative case typically expresses an indirect object relationship, or a range of meanings similar to that covered by to or for in English, but there is a great deal of variation between languages in the way this case is used. English itself does not have a dative case form, but expresses the notion of indirect object using prepositions and word order, for example he gave a book to the boy. Dative refers to t…

Dative: Modern Hebrew

(3,046 words)

Author(s): Halevy, Rivka
The basic function of the dative case, in Hebrew and in many other languages, is to mark an indirect object bearing the relation of recipient ( datum) to the event. It therefore typically occurs with verbs of transfer (prototypically verbs of ‘giving’). In Hebrew the accusative is unmarked while the dative is marked and represented by the ex-allative preposition ל- l- ‘to’, which also appears in the inflected form, e.g., לו lo ‘to-him’. The dative marker is also used to encode the infinitive, e.g., ללכת lalexet ‘to go’. The dative-marked argument can be governed by verbs as well…

D (d (dalet) - dysphemisms)

(4,742 words)

d (dalet)  accentuation sign Biblical Accents: Babylonian, Exceptive Construction  pronunciation of Italy, Pronunciation Traditions, Tiberian Reading Tradition d- (of), in constructs Construct State: Hasidic Hebrew da˓at (knowledge) Animal Names Dabber ˓Ivrit (Speak Hebrew!) Tunisia Dabbūra inscription Epigraphic Hebrew: Roman and Byzantine Period dageš vocalization sign Biblical Hebrew: Linguistic Background of Masoretic Text, Dageš, Tiberian Reading Tradition  after šewa Graphophonemic Assignment   conjunctivum Dageš   forte Conson…

Dead Sea Scrolls: Linguistic Features

(5,008 words)

Author(s): Fassberg, Steven E.
1. Introduction In 1947 the first fragments of more than 900 manuscripts were discovered in eleven caves behind Khirbet Qumran at the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea. Most of the manuscripts were written in Hebrew in the Jewish script (Cross 2003; the Palaeo-Hebrew script is also attested), some were written in Aramaic, and a few in Greek. Approximately 25% of the texts are biblical (including all books of the Hebrew Bible with the exception of Esther), 38% are sectarian (e.g., the ‘Community Ru…

Dead Sea Scrolls: Orthography and Scribal Practices

(2,207 words)

Author(s): Tov, Emanuel
The more than 210 biblical texts found in Qumran do not share any major textual, linguistic, or scribal characteristics; they were written in different periods and at different places, and are textually and linguistically heterogeneous. This entry refers only to one group of Qumran texts, with features that are unique among the biblical texts found at Qumran. The texts belonging to this group probably were copied by the Qumran covenanters themselves, in accordance with what has come to be known as the Qumran Scribal Practice (QSP). The special characteristics recognizable in the …

Defective Verbs

(3,824 words)

Author(s): Schwarzwald, Ora (Rodrigue)
Defective (or weak) verbs are verbs that contain a radical which does not show up in part or all of the inflection. Strong roots, with their three permanent radicals, constitute the norm against which the defective features of weak roots are compared. Hebrew roots are divided into strong and weak inflectional classes called גזרות gzarot ‘root classes’ in Hebrew. The Semitic classification of weak versus strong verbs should not be confused with the Indo-European system, in which strong verbs are those in which tense is marked by vowel change in the stem, as in English sing-sang-sung, bring…

Definite Article: Modern Hebrew

(1,474 words)

Author(s): Danon, Gabi
1. Syntax and morphology The Hebrew definite article, -ה ha- ‘the’, is a bound prefix attached to nouns, adjectives, demonstratives, and some pronouns. While the semantic and pragmatic factors governing its distribution are by and large similar to those governing the distribution of definite articles in many other languages, the Hebrew article is also subject to several language-specific morphosyntactic constraints. While in Classical Hebrew the article alternated between the phonologically-conditioned variants -הַ ha-, -הֶ -, and -הָ hå̄-, in Modern Hebrew it is almos…

Definite Article: Pre-Modern Hebrew

(2,497 words)

Author(s): Rubin, Aaron D.
1. Form and Etymology In Biblical Hebrew, the definite article is a prefixed -הַ ha- plus gemination of the following consonant, as in הַדָּבָר had-då̄ḇå̄r ‘the word’, הַמַּלְכָּה ham-malkå̄ ‘the queen’, and הַשֹּׁפְטִים haš-šōp̄ṭīm ‘the judges’ (cf. דָּבָר då̄ḇå̄r ‘word’, מַלְכָּה malkå̄ ‘queen’, and שֹׁפְטִים šōp̄ṭīm ‘judges’, respectively). As shown by these examples, the definite article is not marked for gender or number. Because the consonants א ʾ, ה h, ח , ע ʿ, and ר r are generally not geminated in Tiberian Hebrew, the vocalization of the definite article is subject to…

Definiteness: Modern Hebrew

(3,210 words)

Author(s): Danon, Gabi
1. Definiteness marking Definite noun phrases (i.e., noun phrases that carry a presupposition of uniqueness in the singular or of maximality in the plural) are morphologically marked in Modern Hebrew in one of several ways. In the simplest case, the definite-indefinite distinction is encoded by the respective presence or absence of the definite article -ה ha-, which is prefixed to the noun: (1) הספר ha-sefer the-book ‘the book’ (2) sefer ספר book ‘a book’ Other determiners that encode definiteness are (postnominal) demonstratives and the prenominal determiner אותו ʾ oto ‘same, that…


(1,014 words)

Author(s): Ofer, Yosef
Deḥiq (דחיק ‘compressed’) is a Masoretic term indicating circumstances in which, after a word ending with one of the letters אהוי ʾhwy, a בגדכפת bgdkpt letter at the beginning of the next word, which would usually be softened to a fricative, retains instead its plosive form. The term appears alongside three other cancellers of softening, which rhyme with it: פסיק pesiq, מפיק mappiq, and אתי מרחיק ʾaṯe me-raḥiq. The ancient versions of the Masoretic rule on this subject make no mention of these terms, using instead the cryptic expression טעמים הקודמים בתיבה ṭeʿamim haq-qodmim bat-teḇa ‘ac…

Deir ʿAllā

(1,349 words)

Author(s): Gzella, Holger
Deir ʿAllā, in present-day Jordan, is commonly identified with biblical סֻכּוֹת sukkōṯ Succoth which formed part of Gilead on the Eastern side of the Jordan River (Lipiński 2006:288–293). It belonged to the Kingdom of Israel, but was conquered in ca. 837 B.C.E. by Damascus and eventually fell to Assyria in 732 B.C.E. The site served as an important sanctuary during the Late Bronze Age, but not necessarily so in later periods (van der Kooij 1993). Excavations were initiated by Henk Franken in 1960. In March 1…

Deixis: Modern Hebrew

(3,309 words)

Author(s): Halevy, Rivka
Deixis in linguistics encompasses the concepts of ‘person deixis’ ( הוא hu ‘he’, היא hi ‘she’, הם hem ‘they [m.]’, and הן hen ‘they [f.]’), ‘spatial deixis’ (demonstrative pronouns and adjectives, and locative demonstrative adverbs, such as פה po/כאן kan ‘here’, הנה hena ‘(to) here, hither’, and שם šam ‘there’), ‘temporal deixis’ (e.g., עכשיו ʿaxšav ‘now’, אז ʾaz ‘then’), ‘social deixis’ (i.e., indicators of social rank and relationship between participants, e.g., אדון ʾ adon ‘Mister, sir’/אדוני ʾ adoni ‘my lord, sir’/כבודו kvodo ‘his honor’גברת gveret ‘Miss, Ms.’/גברתי gvirti ‘m…

Demonstrative Pronouns

(2,004 words)

Author(s): Hasselbach, Rebecca
Like most Semitic languages, Hebrew has two main sets of demonstrative pronouns, one set for near deixis (‘this’) and another for remote deixis (‘that’). In the singular, the pronouns for near deixis are distinguished for gender, while the plural has a communis form. The pronouns for remote deixis, which consist of anaphoric pronouns, distinguish gender in both the singular and plural. The following paradigm provides an overview of the common demonstrative pronouns in Hebrew in their most basic form: Near deixis ‘this’ Remote deixis ‘that’ Ms זֶה אוּה Fs זֺאת zōṯ הִיא Mpl אֵלֶּה ʾēll…

Denominal Verbs: Modern Hebrew

(2,421 words)

Author(s): Bat-El, Outi
Denominal verbs are verbs which are derived from nouns or adjectives (henceforth: bases or base words), as in סבון sabon ‘soap’ > סיבן siben ‘to soap’, טלפון telefon ‘phone’ > טילפן tilfen ‘to phone’, and חם x̱am ‘hot’ > חימם ximem ‘to heat’. Regardless of whether the base word is native or borrowed, all denominal verbs fit into the binyan system (Binyanim). 1. The binyan of denominal verbs The binyan (verb template) of denominal verbs is usually piʿel, whose productivity has been attributed to the relative simplicity of its morpho-logical and morpho-phonological structu…

Denominal Verbs: Pre-Modern Hebrew

(2,782 words)

Author(s): Maman, Aharon
The question of whether or not the concept of the root is relevant to Modern Hebrew has been addressed in a number of articles in recent decades. Most scholars are of the opinion that, although roots are abstract and unpronounceable, they do exist in the speakers’ minds as well as in Modern Hebrew morphology (Schwarzwald [Rodrigue] 2000; 2009 and the references there). It is indeed quite obvious that, for example, the verbal noun שְׁמִירָה šmira ‘guarding, keeping’ and other nouns, whether they denote the result of the action of guarding or have an independent meaning, such as מִשְמָר mišmar

Denominative Nouns

(396 words)

Author(s): Andrews, Stephen J.
In Biblical Hebrew many nouns are derived from verbal roots (deverbative), e.g., רָמָה rå̄må̄ ‘high place’, מָרוֹם må̄rōm ‘height’ from רו״ם r-w-m ‘to be high’. But in some cases nouns originate from other nouns or adjectives, e.g., מַרְגְּלוֹת margəlōṯ ‘the place at the feet’ from the noun רֶגֶל rε:ḡεl ‘foot’, עִוָּרוֹן ʿiwwå̄rōn ‘blindness’ from the adjective עִוֵּר ʿiwwēr ‘blind’. Some verbs as well are derived from nouns, e.g., כִּהֵן kihēn ‘to act as a priest’ from כֹּהֵן kōhēn ‘priest’. Such nominal and verbal derivatives are called denominative. Early grammarians considered all nou…

Dependency Grammar

(1,294 words)

Author(s): Ninio, Anat
Dependency Grammar is a type of linguistic theory that builds syntactic structure on the dependency relation between two words. Although the approach can be traced back to linguists of antiquity, the original formulation of the formal theory is that of Tesnière (1959). Lucien Tesnière was a French linguist, and a member of the so-called Prague School of Linguistics. The dependency relation is an asymmetrical relation between two words, one of which (the Head) exhibits a host of local control phe…


(2,731 words)

Author(s): Schwarzwald, Ora (Rodrigue)
Derivation in morphology refers to the process through which a new word is created by means of an alteration in form or structure. It differs from inflection, in which a word may be changed but no new lexical entry is formed (Dressler 1989). For instance, movement is derived from move by the addition of - ment and both words are listed in the lexicon, whereas the addition of -s to move or to movement (i.e., moves, movements, respectively) does not involve the creation of new words (Inflection). Derivation differs from inflection in a number of ways, a few of which will be mentione…
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