Publications

Book Chapters
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Medieval Jewish Literary Languages: the case of the Aramaic of the Zohar. In: Hebrew and Aramaic in the Middle Ages – Language Studies and Grammatical Thought. Jerusalem: The Academy of Hebrew Language ; 2020. pp. 19-63.Abstract

This paper characterizes Medieval Hebrew and Aramaic as literary languages, and uses the Aramaic of the Zohar as a test-case to explore this category. The paper 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. After concluding my general theoretical discussion, I apply my conclusions therein to the Aramaic of the Zohar (the main text of the Jewish Kabballah), adapting previous studies of Zoharic Aramaic to this theoretical framework, and examining various new issues in the Zoharic grammar.

medieval_jewish_literary_languages_the_c.pdf
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.

causation_from_metaphysics_to_semantics.pdf
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).

final_-_scan.pdf
Bar-Asher Siegal EA. Towards a Reconsideration of the Tense-Aspect-Mood System of Tannaitic Hebrew. In: Studies in Mishnaic Hebrew and Related Fields Proceedings of the Yale Symposium on Mishnaic Hebrew May 2014. Jerusalem: The Academy of Hebrew Language ; 2017. pp. 59-91.Abstract

This paper provides an analysis of the Tense–Aspect–Mood system of
Tannaitic Hebrew. Following an outline of the methodology in his choice
of the corpus for this study,  the author sketches out his analysis with a focus on
the theoretical motivations in its favor.

towards_a_reconsideration_of_the_tense_a.pdf
The Origin and the Typology of the Pattern qtil li in Syriac and Babylonian Aramaic. In: A. Mamman, S. Fassberg and Y. Breuer, (eds.), Sha’arey Lashon: Studies in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Jewish Languages in Honor of Moshe Bar-Asher. Vol. 2. Jerusalem : Hebrew University ; 2008. pp. 360-392. sh2-elitzur_bar-asher.pdf

Pages