Is Biblical Hebrew a non-configurational language? Reconsidering the evidence from discontinuous phrases

  • Marianne Kaajan ETCBC, VU Amsterdam
Keywords: non-configurational languages, discontinuous phrases, Biblical Hebrew


The occurrence of discontinuous phrases is an important feature of so-called non-configurational languages, which are characterized by relatively free word order in clauses and phrases. Partly based on this feature, it has been argued that Biblical Hebrew is a non-configurational language. However, after reviewing broader linguistic literature on this topic, the present article shows that the seemingly discontinuous phrases in Biblical Hebrew are not comparable to the typically non-configurational types of discontinuous phrases, and thus need a different explanation. The suggested alternative analyses are afterthought (or right dislocation) and extraposition. Since these constructions occur in languages at various positions on the configurationality continuum, they should not be interpreted as evidence for the assumed non-configurational nature of Biblical Hebrew.

How to Cite
Kaajan, Marianne. 2019. “Is Biblical Hebrew a Non-Configurational Language? Reconsidering the Evidence from Discontinuous Phrases”. HIPHIL Novum 5 (2), 45-69.