The deictic nature of the directives in Biblical Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew has three specific verb forms for performing directive speech-acts such as commands and requests. Hebraists (e.g., Bendavid 1967) observe that two other forms are also used for this purpose, in addition to other uses. In Hatav (1997), I show that those two forms are general modals, which may be used for any kind of modality, including directives. Complying with Grice’s (1975) cooperative rule, I argue in this paper, a biblical character would prefer the specific forms to perform directives. However, I show that the specific forms are deictic in nature, and can be used only when the speech-time functions as the reference-time of the utterance. In case of another reference-time, the speaker must resort to the general modals.
Published online: 30 August 2006