Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

Founded by Gries, Stefan Th. / Stefanowitsch, Anatol

Ed. by Wulff, Stefanie

2 Issues per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.200
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.386

CiteScore 2017: 0.80

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.288
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.930

See all formats and pricing
More options …

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


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


  • Adler, Meni & Michael Elhadad. 2006. An unsupervised morpheme-based HMM for Hebrew morphological disambiguation. In Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Computational Linguistics and 44th Annual Meeting of the ACL, 665–672, Sydney, July 2006.

  • Agresti, Alan. 2002. Categorical data analysis. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006, Sydney. 665–672.Google Scholar

  • Aissen, Judith. 2003Differential object marking: Iconicity vs. economyNatural Language & Linguistic Theory 213435483.Google Scholar

  • Altmann, Gabriel, Haro von Buttlar, Walter Rott & Udo Strauss. 1983. A law of change in language. In Barron Brainerd (ed.), Historical linguistics, 104–115. Bochum: Studienverlag Dr. N. Brockmeyer.Google Scholar

  • Ariel, Mira, Elitzur Dattner, John Du Bois & Tal Linzen. 2015. Pronominal datives: The royal road to argument status. Studies in Language 39(2). 257–321.Google Scholar

  • Bailey, Guy. 2002. Real and apparent time. In John K. Chambers & Natalie Schilling-Estes (eds.), The handbook of language variation and change, 312–332. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar

  • Bailey, Guy, Tom Wikle, Jan Tillery & Lori Sand. 1991. The apparent time construct. Language Variation and Change 3(3). 241–264.Google Scholar

  • Bally, Charles. 1925/1996. The expression of concepts of the personal domain and indivisibility in Indo-European languages. In H. Chappell & W. McGregor (eds.), The grammar of inalienability: A typological perspective on body part terms and the part-whole relation, 31–61. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Bar-Asher, Elitzur. 2008. The origin and the typology of the pattern qtil li in Syriac and Babylonian. In S. Fassberg & Y. Breuer (eds.), Sha’arey lashon: Studies in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Jewish languages in honor of Moshe Bar-Asher, 360–392. Jerusalem: Bialik Institute.Google Scholar

  • Barr, Dale J., Roger Levy, Christoph Scheepers & Harry J. Tily. 2013. Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language 68(3). 255–278.Google Scholar

  • Bates, Douglas, Martin Maechler & Ben Bolker. 2012. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using s4 classes. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lme4. R package version 0.999999-0 (accessed 1 January 2009).

  • Berman, Ruth. 1982. Dative marking of the affectee role: Data from Modern Hebrew. Hebrew Annual Review 6. 35–59.Google Scholar

  • Boberg, Charles. 2004. Real and apparent time in language change: Late adoption of changes in Montreal English. American Speech 79(3). 250–269.Google Scholar

  • Boneh, Nora & Elitzur Bar-Asher. 2014. Dativim bilti-mutsraxim ba-ivrit ha-xadasha be-heqsheram [Modern Hebrew non-core datives in context]. Leshonenu 74. 461–495.Google Scholar

  • Borer, Hagit & Yosef Grodzinsky. 1986. Syntactic cliticization and lexical cliticization: The case of Hebrew dative clitics. In Hagit Borer (ed.), Syntax and semantics 19, 175–217. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Bosse, Solveig, Benjamin Bruening & Masahiro Yamada. 2012. Affected experiencers. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 30(4). 1185–1230.Google Scholar

  • Canty, Angelo & B. D. Ripley. 2012. boot: Bootstrap r (s-plus) functions. R package version 1.3-5.

  • Chambers, Jack K. 1995. Sociolinguistic theory: Linguistic variation and its social significance. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Dattner, Elitzur. 2015. Mapping Hebrew dative constructions. Tel Aviv University dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Davison, Anthony Christopher & D. V. Hinkley. 1997. Bootstrap methods and their application. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Fried, Mirjam. 1999. From interest to ownership: A constructional view of external possessors. In Doris L. Payne & Immanuel Barshi (eds.), External possession, 473–504. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Friedmann, Na’ama. 2007. Young children and A-chains: The acquisition of Hebrew unaccusatives. Language Acquisition 14(4). 377–422.Google Scholar

  • Gafter, Roey. 2014. The distribution of the Hebrew possessive dative construction: Guided by unaccusativity or prominence? Linguistic Inquiry 45(3). 482–500.Google Scholar

  • Halevy, Rivka. 2013. The dative in Modern Hebrew. In Geoffrey Khan (ed.), Encyclopedia of encyclopedia of Hebrew language and linguistics, Leiden: Brill. http://pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il/halevyne/dativeinMHHalevy.pdf (accessed 28 February 2014).Google Scholar

  • Haspelmath, Martin. 1999. External possession in a European areal perspective. In Doris L. Payne & Immanuel Barshi (eds.), External possession. 109–136. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Heine, Bernd. 1997. Possession: Cognitive sources, forces, and grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Heine, Bernd, Ulrike Claudi & Friederike Hünnemeyer. 1991. Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Hopper, Paul J. & Elizabeth C. Traugott. 2003. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kemmerer, David. 2003. Why can you hit someone on the arm but not break someone on the arm? A neuropsychological investigation of the English body-part possessor ascension construction. Journal of Neurolinguistics 16(1). 13–36.Google Scholar

  • König, Ekkehard & Martin Haspelmath. 1998. Les constructions à possesseur externe dans les langues d’Europe. In Jack Feuillet (ed.), Actance et valence dans les langues de l’Europe, 525–606. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Kroch, Anthony S. 1989. Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language change. Language Variation and Change 1(3). 199–244.Google Scholar

  • Labov, William. 1963. The social motivation of a sound change. Word 19(3). 273–309.Google Scholar

  • Labov, William. 1990. The intersection of sex and social class in the course of linguistic change. Language Variation and Change 2(2). 205–254.Google Scholar

  • Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change. Vol. 1: Internal factors. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Lambert, Silke. 2010. Beyond recipients: Towards a typology of dative uses. University at Buffalo, State University of New York dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Lamiroy, Béatrice & Nicole Delbecque. 1998. The possessive dative in Romance and Germanic languages. In William van Belle & Willy van Langendonck (eds.), The dative: Vol. 2, Theoretical and contrastive studies, 29–74. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Landau, Idan. 1999. Possessor raising and the structure of VP. Lingua 107(1). 1–37.Google Scholar

  • Leclère, Christian. 1976. Datifs syntaxiques et datif éthique. In Jean-Claude Chevalier & Maurice Gross (eds.), Méthodes en grammaire française, 73–96. Paris: Klincksieck.Google Scholar

  • Lee-Schoenfeld, Vera. 2006. German possessor datives: Raised and affected. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 9(2). 101–142.Google Scholar

  • Levin, Beth. 1993. English verb classes and alternations: A preliminary investigation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Linzen, Tal. 2010. Hebrew statistical linguistics using a morphologically analyzed blog corpus. Paper presented at the Israeli Seminar on Computational Linguistics 2010, Tel Aviv, Israel. June, 2010.

  • Linzen, Tal. 2014. Parallels between cross-linguistic and language-internal variation in Hebrew possessive constructions. Linguistics 52(3). 759–792.Google Scholar

  • Neumann, Dorothea. 1996. The dative and the grammar of body parts in German. In Chappell Hilary & William McGregor (eds.), The grammar of inalienability: A typological perspective on body part terms and the part-whole relation, 745–782. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Payne, Doris L. & Immanuel Barshi. 1999. External possession. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Pintzuk, Susan. 1995. Variation and change in Old English clause structure. Language Variation and Change 7(2). 229–260.Google Scholar

  • Pylkkänen, Liina. 2008. Introducing arguments. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Ravid, Dorit Diskin. 1995. Language change in child and adult Hebrew: A psycholinguistic perspective. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Reinhart, Tanya & Tal Siloni. 2004. Against the unaccusative analysis of reflexives. In Artemis Alexiadou, Elena Anagnostopoulou & Martin Everaert (eds.), The unaccusativity puzzle: Explorations of the syntax-lexicon interface, 159–180. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Romaine, Suzanne. 1984. The language of children and adolescents: The acquisition of communicative competence. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Santorini, Beatrice. 1993. The rate of phrase structure change in the history of Yiddish. Language Variation and Change 5(3). 257–283.Google Scholar

  • Shibatani, Masayoshi. 1994. An integrational approach to possessor raising, ethical datives and adversative passives. BLS 20. 461–485.Google Scholar

  • Smyth, Herbert W. 1920. A Greek grammar for colleges. New York, NY: American Book Company.Google Scholar

  • Wexler, Paul. 1990. The schizoid nature of Modern Hebrew: A Slavic language in search of a Semitic past. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.Google Scholar

  • Wierzbicka, Anna. 1988. The semantics of grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Zeldes, Amir. 2013. Is Modern Hebrew standard average European? The view from European. Linguistic Typology 17(3). 439–470.Google Scholar

  • Zuckermann, Ghil’ad. 2006a. A new vision for Israel Hebrew: Theoretical and practical implications of analyzing Israel’s main language as a semi-engineered Semito-European hybrid language. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 5(1). 57–71.Google Scholar

  • Zuckermann, Ghil’ad. 2006b. Complement clause types in Israeli. In R. M. W. Dixon & Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.), Complementation: A cross-linguistic typology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

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.

Export Citation

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in