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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919


BERGSTROM, Ulf. The progressive-imperfective path from Standard to Late Biblical Hebrew. Old testam. essays [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.3, pp.606-635. ISSN 2312-3621.

This article investigates the semantics of the Biblical Hebrew imperfect and participial predicate in Standard (SBH), and Late Biblical Hebrew (LBH) from the perspective of diachronie typology. It focuses on what is called the progressive-imperfective path, a diachronie pathway characterised by a number of interrelated developments, which expand the semantic range of the form while preserving the default aspectual meaning of the prototypical progressive. A detailed description of the pathway, with implications for the diachronie as well as the synchronic analysis of Biblical Hebrew, is presented. It is shown that LBH represents a later stage of the progressive-imperfective path than SBH, primarily due to an increased use of participles with general meanings. The use of the participle with stative lexemes, however, is not diagnostic of linguistic change in Biblical Hebrew. This illustrates the fact that the established typological models have limitations when it comes to explaining certain features of the Biblical Hebrew development.

Keywords : Biblical Hebrew; Standard Biblical Hebrew; Late Biblical Hebrew; verb; progressive; imperfective; aspect; habitual; generic; typology; grammaticalisation.

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