Original Research - Special Collection: Ignatius van Wyk Dedication

Perspectives from comparisons of the Hebrew l-suffix with the Shona h-suffix features

Godwin Mushayabasa
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 4 | a4843 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i4.4843 | © 2018 Godwin Mushayabasa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 October 2017 | Published: 07 June 2018

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Godwin Mushayabasa, Faculty of Theology, School of Biblical Studies and Ancient Languages, North-West University, South Africa

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The ethical dative or dativus ethicus is a feature used with certain verbs in Biblical Hebrew, which, however, has continued to pose difficulties to grammarians as to its syntactic and semantic references. The feature is also present in other Semitic languages, namely, Syriac and other Aramaic dialects including Persian. Although quite a common feature, the ethical dative is seemingly difficult to translate into English, while its identification as an ethical dative is a widely accepted misnomer. This study attempts to resolve the identification of the feature’s grammatical role by seeking to relate it with a similar grammatical feature from Shona, a language from the Central and Southern African group of languages. Although there are some differences between the compared features, the similarities will go a long way to clarify the nature of the Semitic enigma that is currently known as the ethical dative in Hebrew and in other related Semitic languages.


Dative of Ethic; l-suffix construction; Intransitive verbs


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