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In Modern Hebrew, the possessive pronoun "Shel-y" (של-י) is used for the English possessive pronoun "My".

In Biblical Ivri (עברי), the possessive pronoun for "My" is simply the additional yod -suffix " y " ( י ) at the end of a noun like : "My-Saying" = "Amara-y" (אֲמָרַי).

When did the Ivri (Hebrew) possessive pronoun "Shel-y" (של-י) replace the biblical -suffix "-y"?

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    I believe the first occurrences are in Mishnaic Hebrew.
    – Keelan
    Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 19:11

2 Answers 2

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Richard Steiner says in "Ancient Hebrew" (in The Semitic Languages, ed Robert Hetzron, Routledge 1997):

A process which serves some of the same functions as the one which creates genitive phrases and which sometimes alternates with it is the insertion of the preposition le- 'to, belonging to' (eg 2. Kings 5:9, Ruth 2:3), usually preceded by relative 'ašer/še-.

He gives biblical examples of 'ašer le- but not of še le-, but he has mentioned the latter possibility, and he gives examples of šl- from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the tomb of Benei Hezir.

He goes on to say

In [Mishnaic Hebrew], the phrase še+le- 'that belongs to' has been reanalyzed as a single morpheme, a new preposition šel with the meaning 'of'

(I have not reproduced his precise but unfamiliar transliteration scheme).

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This is a very old question / the other answer is very useful if your question is just When did שלי appear? but unless I'm mistaken שלי did not completely replace what you're talking about and you can still do this in modern Hebrew. בני my son, אחי my brother, ראשי my head, etcetera. I don't speak Hebrew, so I am not sure what the rules are for when you can do this and when you have to say ה... שלי but I am definitely under the impression that current speakers use י as a possessive suffix somewhat frequently.

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