Biblical Hebrew: A formal perspective on the left periphery

Elizabeth Cowper, Vincent DeCaen


We argue that Biblical Hebrew (BH) clause structure is consistently verb-second at the level of TopicP, which appears above Tense but below other C heads. A wide range of constructions and apparent exceptions to verb-second order can be explained in a principled way, depending on which other functional heads are present in the clause. We argue for a richly articulated clause structure, including T, Top, Ǝ, Polarity, Force, and a discourse-related &P whose specifier can host a so-called hanging topic. Apparent V1 and V3 clauses can arise when the verb moves  to a head above Top, when the constituent in the TP specifier is a null subject pro, or when functional projections above TopP host other phrases in their specifiers, or when some combination of these three conditions holds.


Biblical Hebrew, Syntax, V2, Topic, Clause structure

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Copyright (c) 2017 Elizabeth Cowper, Vincent DeCaen