The Interrogative-Indefinite Puzzle in the Context of Biblical Hebrew
“Theoretical Approaches to Anaphora and Pronouns in Biblical Hebrew”: Papers forming part of the 2017 SBL Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew Seminar (Boston, USA)
Keywords:Biblical Hebrew, semantics, diachrony, indefinite pronouns, interrogatives
The biblical corpus features a number of verses in which interrogative pronouns appear in non-interrogative contexts. The same phenomenon is observed in many other languages and gives rise to the question known in the linguistic literature as “the interrogative-indefinite puzzle,” namely, what is the natural connection between the interrogative and indefinite functions. This paper seeks to explore how this question should be examined in the context of the Biblical Hebrew data. It will be argued that a consideration of typological observations can yield important insights into this question. Subsequently, it proposes a formal semantic analysis of the indefinite pronouns in question and shows how the proposed approach can help explain their distribution.