Is there a negative polarity item in DSS hebrew?

Adina Moshavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A negative polarity item (NPI) is a word or expression that occurs grammatically in negative clauses and a variety of other types of clauses such as interrogatives and conditionals, but not in ordinary affirmative sentences. Examples from classical Biblical Hebrew include the pronoun "anything"and the semantically-bleached noun "a thing,"which has been produced from the ordinary noun "word, matter, action"by the process of grammaticalization. This paper examines the noun in the non-biblical DSS with the purpose of determining whether it is used as there as an NPI, as in Biblical Hebrew, or as an ordinary semantically-bleached noun, as in Rabbinic Hebrew. The results show that the diachronic development of in the DSS appears to be at an earlier stage than classical Biblical Hebrew, despite the later dating of the scrolls. This finding is explained as a special kind of pseudo-classicism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-350
Number of pages16
JournalDead Sea Discoveries
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020.


  • Biblical Hebrew
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Grammaticalization
  • Item
  • Negative polarity
  • Pseudo-classicism
  • Rabbinic Hebrew
  • Syntax


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