Diachronic syntax and language change: The case of Qumran Hebrew

  • Jacobus A Naudé Near Eastern Studies, University of the Free State, PO Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300 South Africa


The aim of this paper is to outline a constrained theory of language change and diffusion. Earlier views on syntactic change will be presented and evaluated. It will be shown that the shortcomings in conceptualisation and method which have given rise to misconceptions of syntactic change lie in the failure to utilise a coherent conception of the nature of language and the lack of clarity surrounding the notion of change. If the crucial distinction between change and diffusion events is allowed to be blurred, no meaningful generalisations are likely to be forthcoming. In keeping with the recent developments in syntactic theory, syntactic changes are in fact not changes in the syntactic component of the grammar itself, but rather revisions and differences in features of lexical entries. Examples from Qumran Hebrew will be used to justify the proposed theoretical considerations.

(S/ern Af Linguistics & Applied Language Stud: 2000 18(1-4): 1-14)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614