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The diminishing role of inalienability in the Hebrew possessive dative

Tal Linzen
Published Online: 2015-10-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2015-0023

Abstract

Hebrew has two constructions that are used to convey possessive relations: ordinary possession (OP) and possessive dative (PD). PD is most often used when the possessor is perceived as affected by the action or state described in the sentence. This study investigates the possibility that this tendency is gradually diminishing – in other words, that unaffected possessors in PD are in the process of becoming more acceptable. This hypothesis was evaluated in a blog corpus study, which focused on a central correlate of possessor affectedness: whether or not the possessed object was a body part (inalienability). In line with the hypothesis, inalienability had a weaker effect on the choice of construction in younger than in older bloggers. The overall proportion of PD constructions was similar across age groups. This suggests that the change is best viewed as semantic bleaching of PD rather than as a process in which PD is gaining ground at the expense of OP.

Keywords: Hebrew; possessive dative; possession; language change; affectedness

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About the article

Published Online: 2015-10-27

Published in Print: 2016-10-01


Citation Information: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 12, Issue 2, Pages 325–354, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2015-0023.

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