The Hebrew object marker and semantic type

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Abstract

It is well-known that the object marker in Hebrew, et, is used only in front of definite objects. In this paper I show that even though the distribution of et is governed by a formal notion of definiteness which is determined by syntactic factors, et itself is not semantically vacuous. I discuss the phenomenon of ”definiteness spreading” in construct state nominals and show that this is not spreading of semantic definiteness. Use of et in front of a CSN, however, blocks an indefinite reading which would have been available otherwise. Other semantic effects of et involve distributive readings of conjunctions and the interpretation of wh- words and pseudoclefts. I propose that all these semantic effects can be derived from the assumption that et acts as a type shifting operator.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationIATL
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Place of conference:Israel

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