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Einat-Haya Keren

The article is concerned with a special kind of negative items that changed their distribution when Hebrew became a spoken language again, as an impact of the native languages of its first users. The main claim is that the items meʔuma, klum, and šum davar, which function as Negative Polarity Items (npis) in Biblical and Rabbinic texts, and are therefore translated as ‘anything,’ have changed their function into Negative Concord Items (ncis) in the course of Hebrew’s so-called revival, and are now better translated as ‘nothing.’ Though both classes are often used with negation, there are contexts in which only ncis or npis are allowed. Showing the difference in distribution between Modern and Classical Hebrew, the article compares meʔuma, klum, and šum davar to parallel ncis in Polish, Russian, and Yiddish. It concludes that the shift in distribution and meaning of these items is mostly due to influence of Slavic languages.