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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(2,150 words)

Author(s): Malessa, Michael
Valency is the potential of a lexeme (a verb, noun, or adjective) to structure its syntactic environment by defining the number and the form of complements that may occur in a clause or, in the case of a noun or adjective, in a phrase. Valency is a property of every verbal lexeme, while only a limited number of nouns and adjectives have this potential (see below). Therefore, the following discussion focuses on verbs. Valency as a concept was first fully developed within the framework of Dependency Grammar by Tesnière (1959). He compared the verb to an atom that has the ability to bind a number of other atoms to form molecules. Tesnière’s other analogy is a drama, where the verb creates the scene and allows for a particular number of players to participate in the scene while the background of the scene is created by adverbials. The idea of valency, however, is much older than Tesnière (1959) (cf. Ágel 2000:14–32; 2003:14–36).…


(3,072 words)

Author(s): Cook, John A.
1. Overview This entry treats the derivational and inflectional features of the Hebrew verb. Hebrew verbs have a root-and-pattern morphology: verbs are derived from a consonantal root in one of seven basic patterns ( binyanim), which combine a syllabic structure with a vowel set, and sometimes a consonantal prefix (Schwarzwald 1996:98). These patterns enable the creation of multiple verbs from a single root and express valency distinctions. Verbal conjugations express tense-aspect-mood (TAM) through syllable and vowel alternations associated with the various patterns ( binyani…

Verbal Clause: Biblical Hebrew

(5,016 words)

Author(s): Moshavi, Adina
In the verbal clause the predicate includes a verb; in the nominal clause (Nominal Clause) the predicate is non-verbal and may be, for example, a noun phrase, prepositional phrase, or subordinate clause. Although the distinction between verbal and nominal clause in Biblical Hebrew might appear clear, it depends crucially on which forms are classified as verbs. Sections 1–6, below, discuss the classification of various verbal forms and associated clause structures as verbal or nominal. Verbal cla…

Verbal Clause: Modern Hebrew

(2,021 words)

Author(s): Borochovsky, Esther | Trommer, Pnina
A verbal clause has an overt verb as its nucleus/predicate. In Modern Hebrew overt verbs can occur in the קָטַל qaṭal, יִקְטֹל yiqṭol, and קְטֹל qṭol forms in the various binyanim. The participle, too, although it is originally a nominal form and still has nominal functions in Modern Hebrew, is perceived as basically part of the verb system and as the most commonly used form for the expression of the …

Verbal Nouns: Modern Hebrew

(3,013 words)

Author(s): Seroussi, Batia
The lexicon of Modern Hebrew contains several categories of nouns, falling into the three main classes of derived, non-derived (Derivation), and compound nouns (Compound Nominals) (GKC § 79; Schwarzwald 2002:units 3 and 4; Berman and Seroussi 2011; Berman forthcoming). This entry focuses on derived nouns, from the point of view of word families that share a common consonantal root—whether canonically triconsonantal ‘full’ or defective ‘weak’…

Verbal System: Biblical Hebrew

(2,616 words)

Author(s): Joosten, Jan
As in other languages with a conjugated verb, so in BH (= Biblical Hebrew) different verbal forms express distinct nuances of tense, aspect, and mood. Traditionally, the BH verbal system has been viewed as being organized around a central opposition: qaṭal (the ‘perfect’) versus yiqṭol (the ‘imperfect’); but this analysis has proved wrongheaded. Both historical considerations and a synchronic approach show that the BH system is more complex and cannot be reduced to a mere binary opposition. Precise definition of verbal usage is difficult …

Verbal System, History of the Research

(2,241 words)

Author(s): Penner, Ken M.
1. Introduction The study of the Hebrew verbal system has been marked by attempts to find a unified explanation for the various functions of its verb forms, with most attention focussed on the yiqṭol (‘imperfect’ prefix conjugation) form because it exhibits the widest variety of functions. Modern Hebrew is a tense system (Hatav 2010) and Biblical Hebrew was usually thought to be th…

Verbal System: Medieval Hebrew Poetry

(2,121 words)

Author(s): Gryczan, Barbara
The Medieval Hebrew flourished as a written language during the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain between the 8th and the 12th century. Though abundantly documented, it is, however, hardly ever a subject of linguistic analysis, since the marked differences between the language systems of the leading authors do not allow for an overall analysis (see Sáenz-Badillos 1996:202–226), so that the language of each of its representatives should be investigated separately, as an autonomous system. …

Verbal System: Modern Hebrew

(2,450 words)

Author(s): Sadan, Tsvi
1. Introduction Verbs in Modern Hebrew are formed exclusively through one traditional type of discontinuous word-formation, i.e., root-pattern formation, in contrast to nouns and adjectives, which can also be formed through other types of word-formation such as reduplication, prefixation, suffixation, blending, compounding, acronyming and conversion (Word Formation; Derivation). Changes in verbal patterns for a given root bring about changes in diathesis and/or aspect in the resulting verbs. Verbs in Modern Hebrew inflect for tense (past, present, and future), mood (imperative), person (first person, second person, and third person), number (singular and plural), and gender (masculine and feminine). There are also infinitives and gerunds (Inflection; Tenses; Gender; Infinitive; Verbal Nouns).…


(792 words)

Author(s): Kuzar, Ron
‘Verboid’ (meaning ‘verb-like’) was introduced into linguistic usage by Jespersen (1937: Ch. 39) as a cover term for verb-like entities such as ‘participle’ and ‘agent noun’. The term was adopted by Rosén (1965:83–84; 1966:214–215; 1977:107–113) to designate a group of expressions in Israeli Hebrew whose syntactic behavior is verb-like. These include the existential expression יש yeš ‘there is/are’ used with the preposition le- ‘to’ to express possession (along with אין ʾen ‘there is/are not’ and the relevant past and future forms of היה haya ‘there was/were’), as exemplified …

Verb Phrase

(1,925 words)

Author(s): Hatav, Galia
In the Generative Grammar framework (first introduced in Chomsky 1957), a phrase is a syntactic unit composed of at least one constituent defining its type. A phrase may consist only of that constituent, which is considered to be its head, or include other constituents as well. A verb phrase, or VP, which is usually the predicate of the sentence, is headed by a verb, with which other constituents may be combined. The latter are classified into complements, which are usually obligatory, and adjuncts, which are always optional. Traditionally, verbs have been classified as transitive or intr…

Verbs, Acquisition of

(1,519 words)

Author(s): Uziel-Karl, Sigal
Verbs play a major role in numerous aspects of language structure, in linguistic form-function relations, and in processes of language development. In Hebrew, all verbs are formed by integrating a consonantal root into a verb-pattern or בניין binyan, e.g., רק"ד r-q-d + hiCCiC→ הרקיד hirqid ‘to cause to dance’, and all verbs carry agreement features (person, gender, number) and tense, e.g., הרקיד hirqid—3rd person, masculine, singular, past. The acquisition of verbs by Hebrew-speaking children is described here from a developmental psycholinguistic perspective a…