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.
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.
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.
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.