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LINGUIST List 24.3386

Thu Aug 29 2013

Diss: Arabic, Phonology: Youssef: 'Place Assimilation in Arabic ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 28-Aug-2013
From: Islam Youssef <islam.youssefhit.no>
Subject: Place Assimilation in Arabic: Contrasts, features, and constraints
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Institution: University of Tromsø
Program: Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Islam Youssef

Dissertation Title: Place Assimilation in Arabic: Contrasts, features, and constraints

Dissertation URL: http://munin.uit.no/handle/10037/5347

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Egyptian (arz)
                            Arabic, Mesopotamian (acm)
Language Family(ies): Semitic

Dissertation Director:
Martin Krämer
Bruce Morén-Duolljá

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis provides evidence from Cairene and Baghdadi Arabic that
sub-segmental representations depend on the patterns of contrast and
phonological activity in a given language. I investigate every process of
place assimilation in these two varieties, and show that the analysis of an
individual phenomenon must be congruent with that of the overall sound
system. In the analysis, phonological features are treated as abstract
(substance-free) categories that 'emerge' to the learner from the
language's surface patterns; that is to say, they are neither universal nor
genetically pre-determined. This stems from the belief that phonology and
phonetics are two independent domains, though resembling each other in
obvious ways. The empirical contribution of the thesis is to provide
in-depth descriptions of all instances of place assimilation in these two
varieties of Arabic, based on an extensive amount of first-hand data. These
data are presented and carefully examined, uncovering new and interesting
facts about the patterns, and also holding implications for the wider
context of Arabic dialectology. The theoretical contribution is two-fold.
First, the thesis offers new solutions to a number of representational and
computational challenges in the analysis of place assimilation. Second, it
offers an exposition and implementation of a recently developed
comprehensive theory of feature geometry—the Parallel Structures Model.
This model provides a minimalist and coherent account of consonant-vowel
interactions within a unified analysis of the complete sound system.
Moreover, the treatment of phonological representations within the model
makes it compatible with a constraint-based theory of computation.

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