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Title: Die unverheiratete Frau in Jes 7,14
Subtitle: Eine Anfrage an die hebräische Lexikographie
Author(s): ZIEGERT, Carsten
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 93    Issue: 2   Date: 2017   
Pages: 269-287
DOI: 10.2143/ETL.93.2.3223605

Abstract :
Dictionaries of Biblical Hebrew fail to describe the exact meaning of the lexeme עַלְמָה (Isa 7,14) as opposed to בְּתוּלָה. This article introduces componential analysis as a heuristic method to investigate the denotation of Hebrew lexemes. The method is then applied to the lexemes עַלְמָה and בְּתוּלָה taking into account all their occurrences in the Hebrew canon. It is argued that both lexemes denote an adult girl that is not yet married. For neither of the two lexemes is virginity a sense-component that contributes to its denotational meaning; thus, they are synonyms. The semantic difference between עַלְמָה and בְּתוּלָה is to be found rather on the level of connotation and (sociolinguistic) register. While עַלְמָה is the unmarked form with respect to register, בְּתוּלָה is only used in contexts which describe an upcoming marriage that could be jeopardized.

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