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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 phonein 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 phonein institutional genre.



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