Understanding the Locative Alternation in Swarm-Drip Verbs: Evidence from Hebrew


This paper is concerned with the locative alternation of swarm-drip verbs in Hebrew. It focuses on the predicate-argument relationship in the alternating construction with the location as subject, for example, הגן שורץ דבורים (the garden swarms with bees [lit. swarms bees]). This type of locative alternation has not received much attention in Semitic linguistics. In the pertinent literature, largely based on English, there is an effort to cope with the problem of what licenses the subject coding of the location and what is the syntactic position of the demoted actor-subject. Hebrew, unlike many Indo-European languages, realizes the demoted subject (e.g., “bees”) in direct object position (Tamyiz in Arabic). Based on the notion of viewpoint as an event-structuring concept, it is claimed that the realization of the construction in Hebrew corresponds directly to the vantage point from which the event is presented. Hebrew can thus contribute cross-linguistically to a better understanding of the construction at hand.