[UMR] Roots & verbal templates 2: Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal (Hebrew University in Jerusalem)
Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal (Hebrew University in Jerusalem)
The semantics and the morphology of reciprocal verbs in Hebrew
In most languages with verbal morphological reciprocals, triadic sentences of the type illustrated in (1-3) are possible (Nedjalkov 2007 and Behrens 2007):
(1) Transitive sentence
rut niška et miriam
Ruth kiss.PST.3.F.SG ACC Miriam
“Ruth kissed Miriam”
rut ve-miriam hitnašku
Ruth and-Miriam kiss.REC.PST.3.PL
- A collective reading: “Ruth and Miriam kissed each other”
- A distributive reading: “Both Ruth and Miriam had reciprocal kissing with someone" (i.e., not each other)
(3) Discontinuous rec-construction
rut hitnaška im miriam
Ruth kiss.REC.PST.3.F.SG with Miriam
“Ruth and Miriam kissed each other”
These sentences engender sets of questions, among them the following:
- (a) What is the relationship between the rec-predicates (predicates of the rec-constructions) and the basic predicates (predicates of the transitive constructions)? Is it accurate to assume a derivation? And, if so, what are the operations that this derivation involves?
- (b) Is there a derivational relation between (2) and (3)? If so, in which direction? Considering the relationship between (2) and (3) requires also an account for the origin of the distributive reading of the rec-construction (2ii).
- (c) While in (2) “Miriam” is a member of the set that takes the subject position and as such is an argument of the predicate, its status in (3) is less obvious. Prima facie it has the same semantic role in both sentences; we are left, however, with the following question: Is Miriam in Sentence (3) an argument or an adjunct?
The current paper proposes an analysis that provides the following answers to these questions:
There is no grammatical relation between (1) and (2-3). The two constructions in (2) and (3) are two different syntactic realizations of the same lexical entry. This is an atom-predicate and therefore the distributive and the collective readings are expected. The oblique phrase is an argument of the predicate.
In order to provide these answers we will have to elaborate on some prominent issues in the morphology of the Semitic languages and concerning the semantics of reciprocal verbs.