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Title: The Expression of Modality in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Its Syntax and Semantics.
Authors: Azer, Hany Amin
Keywords: Afro-Asiatic Languages
Semitic Languages
Arabic Languages
Issue Date: 1980
Publisher: SOAS, University of London
Abstract: The corpus of work on the dialects of Arabic, including Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA for short) is becoming immense. Many features of linguistic interest have long been commonplace, but that of 'Modality' has not yet been investigated. This thesis is primarily intended as a descriptive study of the expressiorl of modality in ECA, Cairene dialect, at both the structural (syntactic) and meaning (semantic) levels. At the first level3 the study focuses attention on the different types of utterances in which the modals of ECA occur, together with an analysis of permissible structural modifications and their resulting meaning differences., if any. Formally, the modals of ECA conveniently fall into two major categories; the non-inflectives which express meanings like 'obligation' and 'possibility', and the inflectives which express meanings like 'wishing'.. 'being able to', 'remembering'. 'forgetting'-and the like. Still at the formal level, the inflective modals of ECA have two subcategories; verbals (two- and-three-form inflectives) and particles (three-form inflectives). At the semantic level, some modals of both non-inflective and inflective groups, can express meanings other than those listed above. These are termed lepistemic' meanings to differentiate them from their basic (root) meanings (i. e. those associated with them in the lexicon). Each type of use has specific phonological and syntactic features characterising it. These features concern the degree of stress assigned to these modals in each use and their specific patterns of word order. The correlation between forms of modals and their place of occurrence on the one hand, and their functions on the other, has also proved to be an interesting area of investigation. For this purpose ample structural notations are provided together with their meaning implications. In the individual analysis of the modals of ECA transformations affecting the standard structural relations such as optional and stylistic variations, question formation and negation are also investigated with a view to showing how the resulting structures serve different speech attitudes. Reference to similarities and dissimilarities to Classical Arabic and to English is made whenever it is felt to yield interesting contrasts or analogies. Those features of stress assignment and intonation which characterise modal structures are also specified Phonologically throughout the thesis showing how these features differ with changes of basic structure and where they may result in differences of meaning. The corpus of work includes introspectively elicited sentences and others provided by informants'as well as texts of conversations, stories and plays written and spoken in the dialect. Grammaticality and acceptability of utterances are judged by reference to my own standards being a speaker of the dialect, and when these do not help frequency of the pattern in the material is taken as the basis of judgment. Finally, it is hoped that the thesis will be a real contribution to the understanding of this area of linguistic interest which has not so far been given due attention.
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