Evidentiality and Mirativity in Traditional Negev Arabic: Morphological, Lexical and Discourse-Syntactic Strategies

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Evidentiality as a typological category pertains to the source of information from the speaker's point of view without specifying it. This information may be conveyed as non-witnessed, inferred or surprising (mirative), among other possibilities. Evidentiality strategies and mirativity strategies are usually secondary extensions of other primary functions, such as resultativity. These strategies may be grammatical, syntactic or discursive, and I also include here lexical items with no other function. In Traditional Negev Arabic, as spoken by elderly Bedouin in Southern Israel, grammatical evidentiality was noted in 1992. Since then, however, evidentiality in Arabic has only been recognized in some peripheral dialects in contact with evidential languages. This study analyses the interaction and pragmatic-rhetorical effects of three strategies for evidentiality and mirativity in oral narrative texts in Traditional Negev Arabic: A grammatical strategy via the evidential participle; a lexical strategy via evidential particles; and a discourse-syntactic strategy via presentatives, combining visual evidence with mirativity and often inference. These strategies tend to cluster together in narrative peaks, creating saturated environments of high dramatic tension. Their complex interaction is highly effective in focalizing and achieving pragmatic and rhetorical ends in this under-studied and rapidly disappearing oral narrative tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-183
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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