Chapter published in:Lexical Polycategoriality: Cross-linguistic, cross-theoretical and language acquisition approaches
Edited by Valentina Vapnarsky and Edy Veneziano
[Studies in Language Companion Series 182] 2017
► pp. 343–377
Word class distinctiveness versus polycategoriality in Modern Hebrew
Typological and psycholinguistic perspectives
The paper deals with word-formation devices in Modern Hebrew as reflecting word-class distinctiveness rather than polycategoriality, defined here as characterizing lexical items that share the same surface morpho-phonological form, yet function in different lexico-grammatical categories. Relevant typological features of the Modern Hebrew lexicon are outlined in terms of: the two major derivational processes of interdigitation of consonantal roots with affixal patterns and linear affixation to a stem; the relative morpho-phonological distinctiveness of the categories of N, V, and A; and the special status of benoni ‘intermediate’ participial forms as allowing polycategoriality in the shape of form-function shifts between these three lexical categories. Empirical evidence is then reviewed concerning preferred patterns of new-word formation in current Hebrew usage, and findings from structured elicitations and naturalistic speech samples are detailed for acquisition of word-class distinctions by pre-school Hebrew-speaking children, including the relatively minor role played by benoni polycategoriality in early child language. The concluding section discusses these findings in terms of the impact of linguistic typology and the lengthy developmental route in this, as in other domains, from initial non-analysis via morphological decomposition of lexical items and on to proficient, literacy-based construal of the elements constituting the mental lexicon.
Keywords: word-class, word-formation, intergitiation, children acquisition, mental lexicon, Modern Hebrew
Published online: 01 November 2017
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