Disjunctive Questions in Biblical Hebrew: A Syntactic, Semantic, and Pragmatic Analysis
Keywords:alternative questions, alternativity, Biblical Hebrew, disjunction, ellipsis, polar questions
A disjunctive question presents an alternative to a previously-expressed state of affairs. Biblical Hebrew has four constructions for forming disjunctive questions. After an initial hă-question, the second can be introduced with hă, ʾim, wəʾim, or ʾô. While Hebrew reference grammars simply acknowledge the variation, this paper systematically addresses these constructions and distinguishes them on syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic grounds. The key results are a finer distinction between conjunction and disjunction and a recognition of how ellipsis discriminates between polar and alternative questions.
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