Christian Canu Højgaard

Published On


Page Range

pp. 193–272


  • English

Print Length

80 pages

6. Causation

Instigation, Volition, Affectedness, and a Hierarchy of Agency

Causative events are essentially agentive because they presuppose an agent to cause the event to happen. But causative events are not equally agentive. A window can be broken by a deliberate human agent, by accident, or by a physical force, each of which presupposes a different amount of force involved. This chapter investigates how Hebrew causative verbs can be measured for agency. Firstly, the two causative stem formations, hifʿil and piʿel, are analysed in order to detail how the stems vary in semantic roles and agency. Secondly, lexical causatives are investigated in light of semantic transitivity, in particular the three semantic features: instigation, volition, and affectedness.
It is argued that a hierarchy of eight semantic roles can be established with corresponding levels of agency, and the chapter concludes by associating Hebrew event structures with concrete agency scores.


Christian Canu Højgaard

Assistant professor of Old Testament at Fjellhaug Internasjonale Høgskole

Christian Canu Højgaard (PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2021, awarded cum laude) is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Fjellhaug International University College Copenhagen. His main interests include Biblical Hebrew language (in particular verbal syntax and semantics), social readings of Biblical law, and digitalization of ancient texts. He is the general editor of Hiphil Novum, a journal for Biblical linguistics. He is currently involved in Creating Annotated Corpora of Classical Hebrew Text, a cross-institutional research project for the digitalization and annotation of ancient texts, and A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew led by Professor Geoffrey Khan.