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  • Author: YAEL MASCHLER x
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A Family of Discourse Markers Across the Languages of Europe and Beyond


We explore employment of the Hebrew construction ('ani) lo yode'a / lo yoda'at (lit ‘[I] not m/f-sg.know’), roughly equivalent to English ‘I don’t know’, by callers and hosts in 80 interactions on Israeli political radio phone-in programs, as compared with its functions in casual conversation. Five uses were attested in the corpus of radio phone-ins and correlated with the syntactic form of complementation (if available) for each token of the construction: (i) expressing literal lack of knowledge; (ii) expressing epistemic stance of uncertainty / hedging; (iii) gaining cognitive processing time in the midst of self-repair; (iv) expressing affective stance of contempt or criticism; and (v) avoidance strategies. While most of these uses are common to both genres, some are unattested in casual conversation. By exploring the functions of the ('ani) lo yode'a / lo yoda'at construction and their distribution according to institutional role, the study (i) sheds further light on the use of the construction and its evolvement through use; and (ii) shows how hosts and callers exploit this specific construction in ways that establish the Israeli political radio phone-in institutional genre.