General Linguistics

The NP-strategy for expressing reciprocity: Typology, history, syntax and semantics, (Typological Studies in Language 127)
The NP-strategy for expressing reciprocity: Typology, history, syntax and semantics, (Typological Studies in Language 127). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing House; 2020 pp. 283+indexes. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This book provides a comprehensive treatment of the syntax and semantics of a single linguistic phenomenon – the NP-strategy for expressing reciprocity – in synchronic, diachronic, and typological perspectives. It challenges the assumption common in the typological, syntactic, and semantic literature, namely that so-called reciprocal constructions encode symmetric relations. Instead, they are analyzed as constructions encoding unspecified relations. In effect, it provides a new proposal for the truth-conditional semantics of these constructions. More broadly, this book introduces new ways of bringing together historical linguistics and formal semantics, demonstrating how, on the one hand, the inclusion of historical data concerning the sources of reciprocal constructions enriches their synchronic analysis; and how, on the other hand, an analysis of the syntax and the semantics of these constructions serves as a key for understanding their historical origins.

Bar-Asher Siegal EA ed. Proceeding of 31st annual meeting of the Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics; 2017 pp. 152.
Book Chapters
Bar-Asher Siegal EA, Boneh N. Causation: from metaphysics to semantics and back. In: Perspectives on Causation: Selected Papers from the Jerusalem 2017 Workshop. Springer ; 2020. pp. 3-51.Abstract

This paper examines reciprocal connections between the discussions on causation in philosophy and in linguistics. Philosophers occasionally seek insights from the linguistic literature on certain expressions, and linguists often rely on philosophers' analyses of causation, and assume that the relevant linguistic expressions denote philosophical concepts related to causation. Through the study of various semantic aspects of causative constructions, mainly targeting the nature of the dependency encoded in various linguistic constructions and the nature of the relata, this paper explores interfaces between the discussions in the two disciplines, and at the same time points to significant differences in their objects of investigation, in their methods and in their goals. Finally, the paper attempts to observe whether the disciplinary line is maintained, i.e. whether or not it is the case that metaphysical questions are examined as linguistic ones and vice versa.

Bar-Asher Siegal EA, De Clercq K. From negative cleftto external negator. In: Breitbarth, Anne, Elisabeth Witzenhausen, Miriam Bouzouita & Lieven Danckaert (eds.). Cycles in Language Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press ; 2019. pp. 228-248.Abstract

This chapter discusses the syntax and the semantics of the negator lāw in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic (henceforth JBA) through the lens of the diachronic emergence of this negator. The new negator lāw is a sentential external negator, whose syntactic and semantic properties is discussed alongside a diachronic study concerning its origin. Syntactically, we propose that lāw, like negative DPs/PPs in English (Haegeman 2000) and Sicilian neca (Cruschina 2010; Garzonio and Poletto 2015) is merged in SpecFocP in the extended CP-domain from where it takes wide scope. Semantically, lāw takes propositional scope and expresses the meaning of external negation, equivalent to the independent clause: ‘it is not the case’. Diachronically, lāw, as a single-morpheme external negation, developed from a cleft whose matrix clause negates the content of the embedded clause. Following work by Bar-Asher Siegal (2015b), we argue that the syntactic reanalysis of lāw is triggered by a phonological process of univerbation between the regular negator lā in clefts with the agreement clitic. This syntactic reanalysis involves a morphological univerbation of lāw (Andersen 1987). The main claim of this chapter is that the syntactic and the semantic characteristics of this negator can be better understood in the light of its historical origin. Moreover, this is an interesting example of how a similar semantic interpretation can be associated with two different syntactic structures, thus allowing a syntactic reanalysis. This type of development is not part of the Jespersen Cycle or Croft’s cycle, but constitutes the development of a non-standard negator next to the standard negator. It is demonstrated that a similar development can be observed for the Sicilian negator neca as well (cf. Garzonio and Poletto 2015).