The Semitic templates from the perspective of reciprocal predicates

Elitzur A. Bar-Asher Siegal


One of the main questions that theories about Semitic verbal morphology aim to answer concerns the relationship between verbs with different but related meanings that share the same phonological root but appear in different templates. The goal of this paper is to shed some light on this broader question by considering the so-called “reciprocal verbs” (rec-predicates), i.e., verbs with certain morphology that allegedly encodes reciprocal relations. Such verbs often appear in the T-templates, across the Semitic languages, thus this paper would like to examine their relation to other verbs with the same root.
All previous analyses of verbal reciprocals assume that rec-predicates are at some level of analysis derivatives of more basic-predicates. Furthermore, most of the reciprocals in Hebrew are in the T-template, and the assumption in various theories about verbs in this template is that they are derivative of functions, that have as their input either the root or verbs in other templates.
This paper argues that there is no grammatical relation between rec-predicates and other transitive verbs in the same root, by pointing out problems with previous derivational analyses, by analyzing the argument structure of these predicates and by providing a semantic account for the various readings the rec-constructions have. The differences between the current proposal and the previous ones stem from the fact that the current analysis does not consider the rec-predicate to be an encoding of reciprocal/symmetric relations and offer, therefore, an alternative portrayal of the relationship between them and the symmetric events they denote.
Since previous studies on the morphology of the templates pay only little attention to the verbal expressions of reciprocity, the goal of this paper is to see what theories concerning the morphology of the templates in Modern Hebrew would have to account for with respect to these verbs.


reciprocals; reflexives; templates; Hebrew; collective and distributive; root

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