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Disjunction in Egyptian Arabic


Languages such as Chinese (Li and Thomson (1981)), Finnish (Haspelmath (2007)), Basque (Saltarelli (1988)), and Malagasy (Keenan, p.c.), among others, have been described as having two disjunctive lexical items where one, the interrogative disjunction is restricted to questions and the other, the standard disjunction occurs in all clause types. In this paper, I look at two such items in Egyptian Arabic--wallaa and aw--that conform to Haspelmath's descriptions of interrogative and standard disjunctions, respectively. Using Inquisitive Semantics (Ciardelli et al. (2012), Groenendijk and Roelofsen (2009), Ciardelli and Roelofsen (2011), inter alia), the differences between wallaa and aw can be captured as a difference in inquisitiveness. While this analysis accounts for the observed data in Egyptian Arabic, it also explains why the cross-linguistic data patterns as it does.

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