n Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages - Hebrew morphology by itself

Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0131


Regarding the choice of which model most adequately represents Hebrew morphology, it is argued that such a model must arise from Hebrew facts, that is Hebrew morphology by itself. Specifically, this necessitates theoretical and empirical understanding of the essence of the Hebrew root. Three models are considered: Word-based (WB), Root-based (RB) and Root-pattern based (RPB). We show that the nature of Semitic / Hebrew morphology is such that new lexemes (as well as nonsense or potential words) were and still are generated directly from roots and patterns without any need and any factual support for an intermediate word stage. The WB model (Aronoff 1976) we conclude is inadequate for mainstream Hebrew morphology. We then show that a Hebrew root morpheme is not a stem undergoing vowel modification. Nor can it merge with vowels, or with concatenative affixes (derivational or inflectional). It can only merge with a pattern morpheme: one root morpheme with one pattern morpheme at a time. This maxim is lost in a RB model. We propose an alternative, namely, root-pattern-based model. We show that such a model succeeds in representing the equal, necessary, exclusive bond that holds between the root morpheme and the pattern morpheme. Such a model is supported by empirical data. We conclude with a brief glance at what we consider the phonological and semantic nature of the root-pattern model.

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