The Hebrew maCCuC Pattern: Morphological and Semantic Examination


  • Lior Laks


adjectives, borrowed pattern, language contact, non-integrated words, faithfulness constraints


This study examines formation in the maCCuC pattern. Some Hebrew adjectives have maCCuC doublets. The adjectives maxrid and maxrud  both denote 'awful', share the stem consonants x-r-d, but are formed in different patterns.

Both words in each pair share the same meaning and are used in similar contexts Not all speakers accept maCCuC forms like the ones in (1b) and (2b) (Bolozky 1999,2010), yet web searches reveal that they are productive. In contrast, there are adjectives that do not have maCCuC counterparts, e.g. metunaf*matnuf 'filthy'. I show that maCCuC formation (and lack thereof) can be predicted based on the interaction of semantic and morpho-phonological criteria. The article will focus on the morph-phonological aspect. I argue that cases of maCCuC formation can be better explained under word-based approaches without separate reference to the consonantal root.

Such gaps are better explained under word-based approaches (Aronoff 1976, 2007). It provides support to the theory of stem modification (Steriade 1988, McCarthy & Prince 1990, Bat-El 1994,2017, Ussishkin 1999,2005) rather than the extraction of a consonantal root. Root extraction could be performed on any base, regardless of its structure.

While most studies on language contact examine borrowed words and borrowed grammatical elements like affixes, there are less studies that examine borrowed prosodic patterns. This case study sheds further light on the nature of non-concatenative morphology and the status of the consonantal root, in addition to the conditions of the usage of this borrowed pattern.