Working Papers
How can history inform semantics: the case of externalnegation. Working Paper. presentation_for_the_grouppaper_schollion.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA, Baglini R. Modelling linguistic causation. Submitted.Abstract

This paper introduces a systematic way of analyzing the semantics of causative linguistic expressions, and of how causal relations are expressed in natural languages. The starting point for this broad agenda is to provide an explanation for the asymmetrical inferential relationship between two causative constructions: change-of-state (CoS) verbs and the verb cause, commonly ascribed to the former having an additional prerequisite of direct causation. The direct causation hypothesis, however, is fraught with empirical and theoretical challenges. At the theoretical level, capturing the felicity conditions specific to CoS verbs and the notion of direct causation requires a means of modelling complex causal structures. This is on no account a trivial task, as it necessitates, inter alia, modelling causation in a way that is germane to the linguistic expressions designating such relations. Hence, the main objective of this paper is to develop a framework for modelling the  semantics of causal statements. For this purpose, this paper makes use of the framework
of Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), and it demonstrates how this approach provides tools for a rigorous model-theoretic treatment of the differential semantics of causal  expressions. This paper introduces formal logical definitions of different types of conditions  using SEM networks, and show how this proposal and the formal tools it employs allow us to make sense of the asymmetric entailment relationship between the two constructions. In our proposal, CoS verbs do not require contiguity between cause and effect at all, but instead they require that its subject is set by default to a participant in completion event, the event which “completes” a sufficient set of conditions, such that following this event (but not before) the values of the set of conditions in the sufficient set entail that the effect occurs. According to this, the intuition of direct causation arises (epiphenomenally) from contrasting CoS verbs with overt cause sentences: the stronger selection pattern of the former - which requires a completion event - may exclude more temporally distant conditions, while the latter admits any necessary condition. 

Baglini R, Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Two notions of causal sufficiencyFormal machinery. Working Paper. cocoa_formalism_handout_3.pdf
Journal Articles
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Is the Aramaic of the Zohar artificial?. Late Aramaic: The Linguistic and Literary Background of the Zohar. Forthcoming.
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Is the Aramaic of the Zohar artificial?. IJS Studies in Judaica. Forthcoming;Late Aramaic: The Linguistic and Literary Background of the Zohar.
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Review of Sjors, Ambji:Srn: Historical Aspects of Standard Negationin Semitic. Leiden/Boston: Brill 2018. XVI, 478 S. 8° =Studies in Semit ic Languages and Linguistics 91. Orientalistische Literaturzeltung. 2021;2021 (116) :376-379. review_sjors_final.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal E. The Formation and the cognitive knowledge of literary langauges: the case of Hebrew and Aramaic in the Middle Ages. Hebrew Studies. 2021;62 :343-363.Abstract

This paper characterizes Medieval Hebrew and Aramaic as literary languages and seeks to explain how a 'literary language' namely a language used mainly in literary contexts arises, while utilizing three types of research: comparative philological research, which compares different languages and texts in terms of their vocabulary and grammar; sociolinguistic research, which examines the social functions of language use; and psycholinguistic research, which (in this particular case) examines issues of language acquisition. The paper builds on philological studies of literary languages to explain how the grammar of these languages evolves. It assumes that the acquisition of such languages is similar to second-language acquisition, while taking into account that these languages are both acquired and used in a strictly literary context. The main argument of the paper is that literary languages should be studied the same way as other languages, because ultimately after making some adjustments motivated by their particular functions they are compatible with the standard models of second-language acquisition.

Bar-Asher Siegal EA. The Interrogative-Indefinite Puzzle in the Context of Biblical Hebrew. Journal for Semitics 28 . 2019;28.Abstract

The biblical corpus features a number of verses in which interrogative pronouns appear in non-interrogative contexts. The same phenomenon is observed in many other languages and gives rise to the question known in the linguistic literature as “the interrogative-indefinite puzzle,” namely, what is the natural connection between the interrogative and indefinite functions. This paper seeks to explore how this question should be examined in the context of the Biblical Hebrew data. It will be argued that a consideration of typological observations can yield important insights into this question. Subsequently, it proposes a formal semantic analysis of the indefinite pronouns in question and shows how the proposed approach can help explain their distribution.

The History of the Formsאילולי and אלמלי: Linguistic, Diachronic, and Textual Transmissions. Leshonenu. 2019;81 :95-111.Abstract

In the scholarship, the discussions of the semantics of Aramaic אלמלי/אלמלא אילולי/אילולא throughout the history of Hebrew have focused on the function of these expressions as sometimes simply marking the head of a counterfactual con

In the scholarship, the discussions of the semantics of Aramaic אלמלי/אלמלא אילולי/אילולא  throughout the history of Hebrew have focused on the function of these expressions as sometimes simply marking the head of a counterfactual condition, but at other times denoting "if not." This paper is divided into two, separately published parts. The first part follows the tradition that the answer to this puzzle lies in historical changes and dialectal variations. The second part  examines various alterations that occurred during the transmission of the texts in which these forms appear. This type of study has the ability to shed light on the semantic interpretations of these expressions and, at the same time, on the linguistic knowledge of those who transmitted these texts. Thus, this paper aims to contribute to the linguistic analysis of these expressions and to our understanding of the ways in which talmudic texts were transmitted, namely, the phenomena that could affect their content.


Bar-Asher Siegal EA. How to apply the Principle of Charity when reading Saussure’s Cours. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft . 2018;28 :311-325. 28_2_rezension.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA, Bar-Asher Siegal M. The Hebrew-Based Traditions in Galatians 4:21–31. Early Christianity. 2018;9 (4) :404–431. bar-asher_siegal_404-431_final.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Scientificity – Humanities – demarcation criteria. Katharsis. 2018;28 :61-76. bar-asher_siegal_melnik_final.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. The pursuit of science: A Study in Saussure’s Philosophy of Science through the Lens of a Historical Discussion. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft . 2017;27 (2) :253-290. 272_bar-asher_beitrag_final.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Can the Grammar of Babylonian Aramaic Be Used in Evaluating the Language of the Zohar, and If So, How?. ?" Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts. 2017;37 :17-28.
Bar-Asher Siegal EA, Bar-Asher Siegal M. ‘Rejoice, O barren one who bore no child’: Beruria and the Jewish-Christian Conversation in the Babylonian Talmud. The Faces of Torah. Studies in the Texts and Contexts of Ancient Judaism in Honor of Steven Fraade, Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements. 2017;22 :199-220. rejoice_o_barren_one_who_bore_no_child.pdf