Existentials and possessives in Modern Hebrew
Variation and change
This paper considers the relationship between synchronic variation and language change in the context of the existential and possessive constructions in Modern Hebrew, which exhibit a normative – colloquial alternation. The study examines usage patterns across age groups and time periods, as represented in spoken-language corpora. It shows that the non-normative construction is used extensively in the contemporary speech of adults. Moreover, a comparison of the use of the normative – colloquial alternations by two populations, children and adults, in different time periods, provides evidence to suggest that these constructions are undergoing language change. A cross-linguistic perspective lends additional support: across languages the expression of existence involves non-canonical structures, which are particularly susceptible to language variation and, possibly, language change.
Keywords: Modern Hebrew, language change, variation, existentials, possessives, corpus, agreement, subjecthood
Published online: 06 June 2018
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