Word Order in Time: Emergent Hebrew (Ns)V/VNs Syntax

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This study explores the temporal dynamics of subject-predicate word order in the verbal clauses of spoken narrative Hebrew discourse. Contrary to previous claims (Glinert 1989), word order is shown to be rather fixed, with only 57 tokens of the VNs construction in a 6.5 hour corpus. They are employed to introduce a protagonist/referent, to index a major shift in narrative flow, or to end a complication episode/narrative (Labov 1972) by resolving it and/or formulating its climax. Prosodic patterns are shown to strongly correlate with syntactic patterns. Constraints of temporal dynamics at clause-level syntax (syntactic projections, Auer 2005) along with the motivation to enhance audience involvement (Tannen 1989), result in the emergence of Hebrew as an (Ns)V/VNs Alternating language (Hopper 1987b).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTemporality in Interaction
EditorsArnulf Deppermann , Susanne Günthner
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9789027268990
ISBN (Print)9789027226372
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2015

Publication series

NameStudies in Language and Social Interaction
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)1879-3983


  • Hebrew language
  • syntax
  • semantics
  • pragmatics
  • verb position
  • narrative
  • emergentism


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