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Semantic Analysis of Deontic Modality in Forensic Linguistic Text: The Case of Forensic Document

The focus of this study is in the domain of a very specific genre of discourse which is Forensic Linguistic corpus. It seeks to examine how English and Arabic express deontic modality in forensic texts and why this device is used in such kind of documents. Such a study is significant in regard to provide some insights into the features of English, and Arabic in denoting modality in terms of forensic texts, and most importantly to arrive at a better understanding of the function of deontic modality in the genre of forensic corpus. The study method adopted Newmark (1988) in order to determine the methods/ strategies of valid translation, also this paper includes a descriptive analysis of a sample of five (5) forensic texts; each text provides the same version in two languages: English and Arabic in order to examine the semantic change of modality in forensic text. English is different from Arabic in regard of probabilities, obligations, usuality and inclination in terms of value of modality. For example: in English the word Must is used for subjective obligation, but in Arabic the word yajeb must, is used for objective obligation, however; both languages hold a different type of recognition of modal expressions. The data of the study is interesting due to it is authoritative text, and widely used in numerous cases. The findings from this study provide evidence that both of the two highlighted languages has its own structures, styles and preferences in expressing deontic modality in forensic discourse and that the use of deontic modality in these texts is deliberately meant to offer information in a fuzzy and equivocal way. The main conclusions drawn from this study are: despite the remarkable differences and preferences specific to each of the both languages, these languages tend to use expressions of deontic modality as a manipulating instrument to change the attitude of perpetrator.

Keywords: Deontic Modality, Forensic Text, Arabic and English, Semantic Change, Fuzzy Meaning.

Mohammed H. Al Aqad, FLL, University of Malaya, MALAYSIA