Hebrew(Afro-Asiatic, Semitic)

Mismatch 1: morphosyntax: gender

Mismatch 2: morphosyntax: passive (marginal)

Mismatch 1
Adjectives agree in gender with the nouns they modify. In the singular, masculine adjectives take a zero ending, feminine adjectives take -a:

sendvits gadol banana gdol‑a
tank large banana large
'large sandwich'
'large banana'

Numerals likewise agree in gender. However, the numerals 3-10, and all numbers ending in 2-9 from 22 and above, use -a for masculines and zero for feminines, precisely the reverse of the normal situation for adjectives:

šəloš‑a sendvitsim šaloš bananot
3 sandwiches 3 bananas
'3 sandwiches'
'3 bananas'
(Glinert 1994: 16)

With numerals, the form used for masculine agreement is evidently the default: there is a tendency in colloquial speech to generalize it for both genders, and it is also used for numbers in the abstract (Glinert 1989: 80).

Mismatch 2
Cohen (19227-35: 240) applies the term 'deponent' to reflexives in Semitic languages which lack the expected function (reflexive, middle or passive). In Hebrew, this applies to the niCCaC conjugation pattern. Among other functions, the niCCaC pattern is the productive way of forming passives from verbs with the stem-shape CaCaC, e.g. zarak 'throw' ~ nizrak 'be thrown' (Glinert 1989: 140). In referring to deponents, Cohen means verbs which have the niCCaC form but not its function, e.g. nehena 'enjoy', nifgaš 'meet'. However, the regular functions of niCCaC are quite varied; in addition to passive, Glinert (1989: 464-65) lists middle (sagar ~ nisgar 'close'), reciprocal (pagaš 'meet' ~ nifgešu 'meet one another') and inchoative (amad 'stand' ~ neemad 'come to a stop'). All these processes involve detransitivization. Significantly, the verbs which have only niCCaC forms, the sort that Cohen would construe as deponent, while perhaps active in some semantic sense, do not take direct objects with the definite direct object marker et-. Thus, there is no clear syntactic mismatch.


Cohen, Marcel. 1927-35. Verbes déponents internes (ou verbes adhérents) en sémitique. Mémoires de la Société de Linguistique XXIII. 225-248.

Glinert, Lewis. 1989. The grammar of modern Hebrew. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Glinert, Lewis. 1994. Modern Hebrew. London: Routledge.