Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Descriptive Analysis of Qassimi Arabic: Phonemic Vowels, Syllable Structure and Epenthetic Vowels, and Affrication
by Alrashed, Abdulmajeed S., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 100; 10752080
Abstract (Summary)

The present study seeks to provide a descriptive analysis of three phonological topics in Qassimi Arabic (QA)—a local variety of Najdi Arabic spoken mainly in Qassim, Saudi Arabia—based on data collected from a total of twenty-two native QA speakers. The topics are phonemic vowels, syllable structure and epenthetic vowels, and affrication. The participant recruitment was the same for all the three topics, but each topic was investigated using its own materials and methods.

Regarding the phonemic vowels in QA, the study based the results on 157 words collected from three native Qassimi speakers. Previous studies have claimed that QA has eight phonemic vowels—three short and five long. However, the findings argue that QA has nine phonemic vowels—four short vowels and five long ones. The four-short vowel system is an empirical claim since previous studies indicated that /a/ is a conditioned allophone, which is challenged in the present study by providing clear minimal pairs, such as /daf/ ‘warm up’ and /daf/ ‘he pushed’. It also indicates that short vowels have narrow vowel space compared to their long counterparts.

As for the syllable structure and epenthetic vowels, the study based its results on the analysis of 419 words targeting the syllable structure, and 72 words targeting epenthetic vowels. The results reveal that QA has 12 syllable structures, which are CV, CVV, CCV, CCVV, CVC, CVVC, CCVC, CCVVC, CVCC, VC, and VCC. The latter two structures are empirical findings to the study since the previous body of research claim that QA has the first ten structures. Regarding the location epenthetic vowels, the results suggest that they can occur, in a sequence of multiple consonants, after the first consonant, after the second consonant, and after the third consonant. These different locations are conditioned by the surrounding environment and/or the syllable structure. In addition, the quality of epenthetic vowels seems to be inconsistent, in coda group, since the participants inserted either [i], [a], [ϵ], or [i], while it is consistent in across-stem group.

In discussing the affrication, the present study investigates the environment that triggers the affrication process in the Qassimi Arabic (QA), and explores whether the syllabic structure or position in the word play a role in the process. It also investigates the phonological domain of the affrication, and the activeness of the affrication process. Based on the 282 words that have the sounds /ts, dz, k, g/, the study has identified important counter evidence to the claim that the affrication process is triggered by front vowels. This study shows that the alveolar affricates /ts/ and /dz/ occur in the environment of almost all vowels since it is occurred before/after [i, e, a, “special character omitted”, o] as well as providing multiple contrastive environments including several minimal pairs, (e.g. [jImk In] ‘maybe’ [jImtsIn] ‘overtake’). It also provides counter evidence for the claim that geminate consonants block the affrication. This study also demonstrates that the syllabic structure is irrelevant to the affrication process since it occurs in onset and coda position in monosyllabic and multisyllabic words. Finally, the study reveals that the affrication process cannot be triggered by affixation, even if the claimed environment is met, which might indicate that to domain of the affrication is the stem in which all the affricated words are monomorphemic words.

In sum, the present study suggests that Najdi varieties should be studied individually since they tend to have specific features that might not be shared with other varieties. That is, just because a feature may be found to exist in one type of Najdi Arabic, it cannot be assumed that feature is also attested in all other closely related varieties.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hall, Nancy
Commitee: Ahland, Michael, Fender, Michael
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 57/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: Affrication, Epenthesis, QA, Qassimi Arabic, Vowels
Publication Number: 10752080
ISBN: 9780438024274
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