When the construction is Axla, Everything is Axla: A Case of Combined Lexical and Structural Borrowing from Arabic to Hebrew

Roey J. Gafter, Uri Horesh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This article examines a borrowing from Arabic into Hebrew, which is a combination of a lexical borrowing and a structural one. The Arabic superlative aħla ‘sweetest, most beautiful,’ pronounced by most Modern Hebrew speakers [axla], has shifted semantically to mean ‘great, awesome.’ Yet, as our corpus-based study illustrates, it was borrowed into Hebrew—for the most part—with a very particular syntactic structure that, in Arabic, denotes the superlative. In Arabic itself, aħla may also denote a comparative adjective, though in different syntactic structures. We discuss the significance of this borrowing and the manner in which it is borrowed both to the specific contact situation between Arabic and Hebrew and to the theory of language contact in general.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Contact and the Development of Modern Hebrew
EditorsEdit Doron
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Pages337-347
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789004302006
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameStudies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics
Volume84
ISSN (Print)0081-8461

Keywords

  • Arabic
  • Construct state
  • Elative
  • Hebrew
  • Language contact
  • Lexical borrowing
  • Structural borrowing
  • Superlatives

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