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: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

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
Pages (from-to)337-348
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Jewish Languages
Volume3
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

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

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