Grammatical vs. lexical plural formation in hebrew

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Hebrew plural formation is traditionally viewed as an inflectional grammatical process. Its productivity in categories such as adjectives and participles places it within grammar, where the grammatical gender determines the suffixes and the phonological changes, e.g. gadol-gdoltm / gdolót ‘big (sg.m-pl.m/pl.f), melamed - melamdím / melamdót ’teach(er) (sg.m-pl.m/pl.f)‘. However, noun pluralization places the inflectional process in the lexicon for reasons such as: a. the grammatical gender does not necessarily determine the plural suffix, e.g. gir - girím ’chalk-s (m, sg/pl)‘, kir - kirót ’wall-s (m, sg/pl)‘; b. certain semantic features seem to prevent pluralization of some nouns, but not exclusively, e.g. ’ademet - (?)‘adamót ’rubella (f, sg/pl)\ but nazelet - nazalót ‘head cold-s (f, sg/pl)’); c. although semantically restricted, some abstract nouns can be pluralized. Nevertheless, they are phonetically prohibited when the singular ends in +iyut. The article gives a full description of the plural formation in Hebrew and suggests the lexical layer solution in which relating each word into the appropriate lexical layer will endorse the application of either a restricted lexical rule or a general grammatical rule, hence bridging between the Weak vs. Strong Lexicalist Hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-608
Number of pages32
JournalFolia Linguistica
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 1991


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