A cross-dialectical comparison of epistemic modals of possibility in spoken Arabic
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This paper examines three dialects of spoken Arabic: Egyptian, Iraqi, and Levantine, which each contain in their respective lexica certain sentential modal expressions. I analyze patterns of usage of these modal expressions by looking at the degree to which the expressions can be considered interpersonal -- that is, the degree to which their use emphasizes the relationship of the speaker and hearer - to the propositional content that he or she is uttering. Ultimately, I conclude that across the dialects of Arabic modals that serve an interpersonal function are considered more objective and appear in contexts that call for propositional content. This contrasts with English, in which modals that serve an interpersonal function do not appear in such contexts.