n Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages - The semantic functions of embedded constructions in Biblical Hebrew

Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0131


In traditional grammars on the syntax of Biblical Hebrew one often finds sections which describe the various types of clauses, for example, circumstantial, causal, conditional, concessive, comparative, temporal, final and consecutive clauses. These types indicate the functions of embedded phrases and clauses. However, these functions are semantic and not syntactic functions and should actually not be dealt with in sections on syntax together with topics such as relative and direct object clauses. A distinction should be made between the morphological, syntactic and semantic aspects of embedded constructions. Using S C Dik's Functional Grammar theory as a starting point, this article focuses on the semantic functions of embedded constructions and attempts to identify the theoretical possibilities concerning the semantic functions of embedded constructions. It is important to note that not only embedded adverbial clauses, like those mentioned above, have semantic functions, but that other embedded constructions which act as first, second or third argument, as well as satellites, also share these functions. Examples from the Hebrew Bible are given to illustrate the most important possibilities. Consequently, this article does not only make a distinction between the syntactic and semantic aspects which are usually described in the syntax sections of traditional grammars, but also attempts to explain and illustrate those semantic functions of embedded constructions which are not usually dealt with.

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