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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Gender, prescriptivism, and language change: Morphological variation in Hebrew animate reference
Author: Erez Levon
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Hebrew
Abstract: Beliefs about a language rarely correspond to how it is used. This is especially true for Hebrew, a language that has been subject to continued ideological “preservation” efforts ever since its (re)vernacularization in the early 20th century. Recently, attention has turned to the maintenance of Hebrew gender morphology, which is perceived in both scholarly and popular opinion as threatened by a process of leveling to gender syncretized forms across a range of word classes and inflectional paradigms. In this article, I investigate the extent to which sociolinguistic evidence supports this perception in cases of animate reference. I argue that while the claim of widespread gender neutralization of these forms is descriptively valid, its characterization as a change-in-progress is inaccurate. Rather, I suggest that Hebrew is already fully syncretized for gender in certain relevant morphological contexts and that the perception of an ongoing process of change reflects a prescriptive belief about how Hebrew should be, not how it actually is.


This article appears IN Language Variation and Change Vol. 24, Issue 1.

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