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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Paleography of Hebrew: Dead Sea Scrolls and Judean Desert Documents

(1,619 words)

Author(s): Tzoref, Shani
The field of paleography, literally the study of ancient writing, is primarily devoted to analyzing trein the development of ancient scripts in order to discern patterns that enable scholars to date early written texts. Like printing and computer fonts in the modern era—but even more systematically—ancient handwritten styles changed over time. Just as archaeologists rely upon comparative analysis of pottery to establish relative chronologies as well as to date specific artifacts, so too do paleo…

Paleography of Hebrew Inscriptions

(2,775 words)

Author(s): Misgav, Haggai
1. The First Stage: The Birth of Alphabetic Writing Alphabetic writing developed in the Middle East in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.E., where its earliest attestation is in the inscriptions of Serabit el-Khadem (Cross 1954). It has been a generally accepted practice to refer to all of the alphabets used during this period by one name, even though there were evidently a number of languages of uncertain identity which were being written at that time. The accepted term for this kind of inscription is Proto-Canaanite script. Recently, there are those who have begun referri…

Palestinian Arabic Political Discourse

(2,910 words)

Author(s): Alshaer, Atef
1. Hebrew in the Palestinian Territories In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Hebrew is not spoken on a daily basis on any comprehensive scale, except by Israeli occupation forces and settlers, whose presence in certain places is palpable. Unlike English and French, which are regarded as prestigious and whose literatures are taught in schools and universities, Hebrew has no such social standing among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. However, many Palestinians are familiar with the Hebrew language or at least with some Hebrew words and sounds. Those Pal…


(2,978 words)

Author(s): Vidro, Nadia
A paradigm is a systematically arranged example of the inflection of a noun, verb, or other inflected part of speech. Paradigms were extensively used in the Greek, Syriac, and Latin linguistic traditions but do not appear in Arabic grammatical writings before the 13th century C.E. The earliest known Hebrew paradigm was composed in the first half of the 10th century. 1. Verbal Paradigms Used by Rabbanite Grammarians The first Hebrew verbal paradigm is found in Saʿadya Gaon’s grammar Kitāb faṣīḥ luġat al-ʿibrāniyyīn “The Book of Elegance of the Language of the Hebrews”. Saʿady…


(2,607 words)

Author(s): Tsumura, David Toshio
Parallelism is a linguistic and stylistic device of poetry, in which two or more lines constitute a complete sentence and their elements correspond to each other semantically, grammatically, or even phonetically, with repetition and variation. 1. Introduction Parallelism has been recognized in poetic texts in Chinese, Finnish, Mongolian, and Russian, as well as in Hebrew, Ugaritic, and other Semitic languages. In the West, Lowth (1778) is acknowledged to have laid down the foundations of a systematic inquiry into this phenomenon. H…


(815 words)

Author(s): Livnat, Zohar
The terms ‘parenthesis’ and ‘parenthetical’, although not explicitly defined in the linguistic literature, usually refer to a word, phrase, or clause which does not depend syntactically on, and is not a complement of, any part of a sentence or of the sentence as a whole. It is not restricted to any one position in the sentence, and is often separated from it by punctuation marks (commas, dashes, or brackets). From a pragmatic-functional point of view, parentheticals are comments by the speaker on the content expressed in the sentence to which they are appended. T…

Parma A Manuscript of the Mishna

(1,219 words)

Author(s): Bar-Asher, Moshe
1. The Manuscript Manuscript Parma a (Pa) is MS 138 in the de Rossi collection and no. 3173 in the catalog of the Parma Palatina library in Italy. The manuscript, written on parchment, contains the complete text of all six orders of the Mishna. A facsimile edition in two volumes (Vol. 1 containing the first four orders: Zeraʿim, Moʿed, Našim, and Neziqin; Vol. 2 the last two: Qodašim and Ṭohorot) was published by Kedem Publishing in Jerusalem in 1970. A photocopy of the manuscript can be viewed on the website of the Israel National Library in Jerusalem. MS Pa was written in Italy, probably …

Parma B Manuscript of the Mishna

(1,189 words)

Author(s): Bar-Asher, Moshe
Manuscript Parma b (Pb) is MS 497 of the de Rossi collection in the Parma Palatina Library in Italy. Its 126 pages contain the entire Order of Teharot and nothing else. The text is provided with vowel signs and accents, one accent on every word. Words that are connected to the following word are provided with a conjunctive accent and words that appear in pausal position have a disjunctive accent: a silluq at the end of the mishna, an ʾetnaḥta at a major pause in the middle of a mishna, and other accents, such as zaqep̄ qaṭon at secondary pauses. The manuscript was apparently written in Iran (t…


(3,144 words)

Author(s): Noegel, Scott B.
Paronomasia combines a similarity of sound with a dissimilarity of meaning. The term originates in the world of Greek rhetoric, where it refers to the repetition of the first two consonants of a word (thus typically the word’s first syllable) in another word. Scholars of the Hebrew Bible, however, have long understood paronomasia more loosely and have applied it to the repetition of same or similar consonants a) regardless of where they appear in the relevant words, and b) irrespective of whethe…

Paronomastic Infinitive

(888 words)

Author(s): Eskhult, Mats
The occurrence of a given verb’s infinitive absolute in connection with a finite form of the same verb is a feature typical of Biblical Hebrew. Combined with the finite verb this infinitive is tautologic, as appears from, e.g., שׁ֣וֹב אָשׁ֤וּב šōḇ ʾå̄šūḇ literally ‘returning, I shall return’ (Gen. 18.10). In the light of Arabic, the infinitive might be considered an internal object; but less likely so, since Ugaritic and Akkadian have no accusative in the corresponding construction (more similar to the Arabic usage are cases such as וַיִּֽירְא֧וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֛ים יִרְאָ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה way-yī…

Participant Reference in Discourse: Biblical Hebrew

(2,136 words)

Author(s): de Regt, Lénart J.
How are participants introduced into and tracked in a Biblical Hebrew text? When is this done by means of proper names, when by nouns (titles, relationship terms, etc.), and when by pronominal or inflectional elements? The choice between these devices is part of super-sentential grammar. This article discusses both default and marked patterns of participant reference, in that order. 1. Default Patterns In a text, more predictable information is assigned less coding material, while less predictable (more discontinuous) information is assigned more coding ma…

Participle: Biblical Hebrew

(2,233 words)

Author(s): Geiger, Gregor
A participle is a word that belongs to a verbal root in a specific binyan (either active or passive), but has the morphological inflection of a noun. The term participle (Latin: participium) expresses the fact that it shares (Latin: participat) verbal and nominal features (on these features see Sellin 1889). The Hebrew name for the participle—בינוני benoni (intermediate)—originally designated the intermediate status of this form between past and future (Dyk 1994:367); this feature holds true for Mediaeval and Modern Hebrew, but not, however, for Biblical. The Hebrew participle e…

Participle: Modern Hebrew

(1,872 words)

Author(s): Doron, Edit
A participle can be characterized as a non-finite form of the verb inflected for a combination of nominal and verbal features. Both the nominal features and the verbal features of participles vary across languages. In Modern Hebrew, nominal features are number and gender, but not person agreement; state morphology: absolute/construct/emphatic (i.e., inflected by the definite prefix ha-); and lack of tense variation. The verbal features are the co-occurrence of arguments; accusative marking of the direct object; adverbial modification; temporal refere…

Participle: Rabbinic Hebrew

(2,401 words)

Author(s): Geiger, Gregor
One of the most salient differences between Rabbinic (Mishnaic) Hebrew and older stages of the language, especially Biblical Hebrew, is the fact that in Rabbinic Hebrew, the participle functions as a regular present tense (i.e., it conveys contemporaneity with the action of speech). In Biblical Hebrew, ‘present tense’ is merely a special case of the participial clause’s broader function of contemporaneity (i.e., denoting action contemporary with the context). This shift in function is a conseque…


(562 words)

Author(s): Oren, Mikhal
An expression indicating part of a whole is termed ‘partitive’. Such an expression will usually include a noun phrase referring to the whole, as well as an element referring to the part—a number or fraction, an indefinite quantifier such as ‘some’ or ‘several’, or a noun such as ‘portion’ or ‘piece’. Syntactically, part and whole are often linked in Hebrew by the preposition מן min ‘of, from’ or its enclitic form -מ mi-, e.g., Modern Hebrew חלק מהספרים x̱eleq me-ha-sfarim ‘some of the books’. Derivatives of מן min, such as מבין mi-ben, מתוך mi-tox, or מקרב mi-qerev ‘from among, out of’, ma…

Passive: Modern Hebrew

(3,442 words)

Author(s): Taube, Dana
The passive construction is usually defined by its potential contrast to a corresponding transitive active construction. This contrast is often expressed by the use of a special verbal form, and by a switch of the grammatical roles: the direct object of the active verb is promoted in the passive to subject position, while its subject is demoted to the position of an optional complement (for further discussion and literature see Taube 1997a:2–13). The active-passive relation is amply discussed in the literature of all linguistic theories, and the centrality of the pa…

Pathology of Language

(2,801 words)

Author(s): Gvion, Aviah | Friedmann, Naama
Aphasia (Aphasia) is a language impairment due to an acquired brain damage. The main causes for brain damage that induces aphasia are cerebral vascular stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, or brain tumor removal. It may be represented by a variety of impairments in spoken language, repetition of words and sentences, verbal auditory comprehension, and may also affect reading and writing (Benson and Ardilla 1996). Given that for most people (both right-handed and left-handed), language is represented in the left hemisphere of the brain, aphasia usually …


(384 words)

Author(s): Oren, Mikhal
An entity that ‘suffers’ an action or process, i.e., is affected or altered by it, is referred to as a ‘patient’ (other terms, such as ‘object’ and ‘undergoer’, are also found in the literature). The semantic role of the patient, undergoing a change imposed from the outside, is diametrically opposed to that of the Agent, initiating an action without being affected by it; agent and patient may be pictured at the two ends of a spectrum of thematic relations (e.g., Van Valin 2006:685). In active, transitive clauses (Voice) the patient is expressed as the object of the verb, while…

Pausal Forms

(633 words)

Author(s): Fassberg, Steven E.
Pausal forms (in contrast to unmarked or ‘contextual’ forms) occur at the end of units of pronunciation in Tiberian Biblical Hebrew, usually with the major disjunctive accents silluq, ʾatnaḥ, and ʿole wə-yored, but sometimes also with the weaker disjunctive accents, in particular segolta, zaqef, and ṭippeḥa. Pausal forms may differ from the corresponding contextual forms in (1) vowel quality (e.g., contextual שֶׁ֚מֶשׁ šεmεš ‘sun’ [Josh. 10.12] vs. pausal שָׁ֑מֶשׁ šå̄mεš [Deut. 33.14]; יִשְׁמְע֣וּ yišmə ׀ ʿū ‘they will hear’ [Deut. 17.13] vs. יִשְׁמָ֑עוּ yiš ׀ må̄ʿū [Deut. 18.4]), and in (…

Paytanic Hebrew

(4,101 words)

Author(s): Rand, Michael
Piyyuṭ is the name given to a form of (mostly) Hebrew liturgical poetry that arose in Palestine during the Byzantine period, around the 4th or 5th century C.E. The term is derived from the Greek ποιητής ‘poet’. As indicated, piyyuṭ is composed mostly in Hebrew, though Aramaic phrases and sentences are occasionally embedded into an otherwise Hebrew text, or, alternately, compositions are written entirely in Aramaic. With the Muslim conquest of the Near East, the tradition of piyyuṭ composition spread throughout the region and flourished in Jewish communities employing bot…
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