Chapter published in:Language Contact, Continuity and Change in the Genesis of Modern Hebrew
Edited by Edit Doron, Malka Rappaport Hovav, Yael Reshef and Moshe Taube
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 256] 2019
► pp. 117–142
Why did the future form of the verb displace the imperative form in the informal register of Modern Hebrew?
This paper addresses a phenomenon in colloquial Modern Hebrew: the use of the future form of the verb rather than the imperative form to convey a command. In Biblical Hebrew both forms are used to convey commands, but in Modern Hebrew the use of the future form of the verb to express commands is confined to the informal register. The distribution of the forms in Biblical Hebrew and in Modern Hebrew is shown to be dramatically different. This suggests that the phenomenon in Modern Hebrew does not have its roots in Biblical Hebrew. Further historical survey indicates that it is a relatively new development. From this historical survey I conclude that the use of the future to express a command in Modern Hebrew has its roots in Rabbinic Hebrew of the 18th and 19th centuries and that the underlying factors which brought this situation about are a process of what is sometimes called ‘insubordination’ and system simplification.
Published online: 18 September 2019
Historical Jewish Press (HJP)
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