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LINGUIST List 17.1832

Mon Jun 19 2006

Diss: Phonology: Mustafawi: 'An Optimality Theoretic Approach to Va...'

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        1.    Eiman Mustafawi, An Optimality Theoretic Approach to Variable Consonantal Alternations in Qatari Arabic

Message 1: An Optimality Theoretic Approach to Variable Consonantal Alternations in Qatari Arabic
Date: 19-Jun-2006
From: Eiman Mustafawi <emust021uottawa.ca>
Subject: An Optimality Theoretic Approach to Variable Consonantal Alternations in Qatari Arabic

Institution: University of Ottawa
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Eiman Mohamed Mustafawi

Dissertation Title: An Optimality Theoretic Approach to Variable Consonantal Alternations in Qatari Arabic

Dissertation URL: http://roa.rutgers.edu/view.php3?id=1164

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Gulf Spoken (afb)

Dissertation Director:
Marie-Helene Cote

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis investigates two variable phonological processes exhibited in
Qatari Arabic (QA). One is the affrication of the velar stops [k] and [g]
to [tS] and [dZ], a process that has been traditionally assumed to be
triggered by adjacency to a front vowel. The other alternation concerns the
lenition of /dZ/ to [j], taken to be phonetically unconditioned. Previous
studies, however, recognize the existence of a large number of exceptions
to these processes.

By reconsidering the data in the light of new advancements in phonological
theory, affrication and lenition are analyzed as regular processes, and
cases that were previously considered to be exceptions to affrication and
lenition are accounted for. First I argue for the inclusion of the segments
/g/ and /tS/, which are traditionally assumed to derive from an underlying
/q/ and /k/, respectively, in the phonemic inventory of QA. I find that
affrication can be triggered only by adjacency to [i(:)], to the exclusion
of any other segment, within the stem. Also, affrication interacts with
pharyngealization, a process that retracts/lowers vowels in a certain
domain and removes the required context for affrication to apply. Lenition
is argued not to be context-free, as it is blocked in coda position
preceded by a non-low vowel, as well as in geminates.

Exceptions to lenition are accounted for by employing the notion of
prespecification/underspecification. Both processes are subject to OCP
restrictions and paradigmatic effects.
Typologically, the current study adds QA to the small list of languages in
which lenition of an obstruent to a glide applies. It also discusses a
unique case of interaction between variation and paradigmatic effects, and
it provides evidence for the necessity of the OP model (McCarthy, 2005) in
addition to regular OO-faithfulness constraints. This study suggests that
the OCP is a synchronically active constraint in Arabic which restricts
segmental alternations, in addition to restricting static patterns of
phonological representation.

The discussion is based on a large amount of data, systematically extracted
from a local dictionary and complemented by additional forms provided by
the author. The analysis is cast in an optimality theoretic (OT) framework
(Prince & Smolensky, 2004), which holds that linguistic forms are the
outcome of the interaction among violable universal constraints, and in
OT's recent development into a model that accounts for linguistic variation.

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