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Tracing Use and Semantic Contribution of the L-Suffix Construction in Biblical Hebrew and Classical Syriac

Godwin Mushayabasa


The dative of ethic or dativus ethicus is a grammatical feature that occurs regularly in Biblical Hebrew as well as in Classical Syriac. Several studies have been undertaken to understand and define the DE’s grammatical character, yet there is still no consensus among researchers as to its semantic import. Contributing to this subject of research, the present paper brings into dialogue some of the previous findings, re-examines some instances where the dativus ethicus occurs in the relevant literature, and thus attempts to provide further insights on its semantic references. A further unique aspect of the present research is an attempt to trace common characteristics in the DE’s use between the corpora of Biblical Hebrew and Classical Syriac. By undertaking this study in both these languages, it is postulated that there are similarities or comparable differences in their use of the feature. This study is carried out by way of bringing into dialogue the past researches on the subject, as well as re-examining the semantic references of the feature in contexts culled from relevant literature. Particular attention in these re-examinations is given to the role players involved in such contexts. The study concludes that the DE feature profiles an aspect of separation and /or motion by a theme, away from a point of interest towards a new one.


Dative of Ethic; Biblical Hebrew; Classical Syriac; Semitic Languages; Linguistics

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