Discourse Particles in Biblical Hebrew Directives [by Alexey Lyavdansky]

Discourse Particles in Biblical Hebrew Directives

By Alexey Lyavdansky

(Russian State University for the Humanities)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 1 (2012): 928

Publication date: December 1, 2012

Publication type: article

Language: English

Full text: 


Discourse particles in Biblical Hebrew are a relatively recent subject of study. It is yet to be determined, which linguistic expressions in Biblical Hebrew should be counted as discourse particles, or discourse markers. Moreover, the functions of already known discourse particles in Biblical Hebrew were not properly assessed. The present paper is focused on the functions of discourse particles in Biblical Hebrew directive utterances (requests, commands, suggestions, permissions). The study was carried out on the basis of the analysis of all directive utterances (directive turns in dialogue) within the biblical Book of Judges. Contrary to the previous studies of Biblical Hebrew discourse particles, the attention is drawn not only to the functioning of a certain particle (form-to-function approach), but the attempt is made to determine a slot, which may be filled with a particle or its synonym, or left unfilled (function-to-form approach). The functional slots for discourse particles are created by discourse structure of a turn in dialogue. Most of the directive utterances in dialogue are composed of the core discourse act(s), represented by imperative clause(s), and the supportive discourse act(s), usually represented by assertive clause(s). Discourse particles are put either before the core discourse act in the directive utterance, or before the supportive discourse act. The main part of the article is dedicated to the analysis of seven discourse particles used in Biblical Hebrew directive utterances: ki, ʔaḥăre ʔăšär, (wǝ)ʕattå, nå, hinne, hălo, and raq. The result of the study shows, that some of these particles may be grouped together as synonyms, because they are used in the same positions: ki and ʔaḥăre ʔăšär; (wǝ)ʕattå and nå; hinne and hălo. On the other hand, they are not absolute synonyms, which is exemplified by the contrastive analysis of ki and ʔaḥăre ʔăšär. Since the particle raq is used rarely as a discourse marker, the examples in the Book of Judges are not sufficient to formulate even a preliminary conclusion. The status of nå as a discourse particle is not yet clear; the question needs further investigation. The results of this study are preliminary and will be tested in a future publication, based on a broader source material.



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