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Ablaut and Ambiguity
Phonology of a Moroccan Arabic Dialect
Ablaut and Ambiguity
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Jeffrey Heath - Author
SUNY series in Linguistics
Hardcover - 366 pages
Release Date: September 1987
ISBN10: 0-88706-511-2
ISBN13: 978-0-88706-511-8

Out of Print
Paperback - 366 pages
Release Date: September 1987
ISBN10: 0-88706-512-0
ISBN13: 978-0-88706-512-5

Out of Print


This volume thoroughly analyzes the phonology of a representative dialect of Moroccan Arabic (MA). This dialect is phonologically interesting because of the existence of numerous productive patterns of derivational ablaut, several types of play speech transformation, and various problems in representation of stems and formalization of rules due to the progressive reduction or disappearance of older short vowels.

In examing ablaut, Heath formally models all productive derivational patterns using concepts of mapping and projection from input stems onto output stems, and not making use of abstract "root" representations. The formal details of mapping and projection differ significantly from one pattern to another (several use a bidirectional, i.e., periphery-in, strategy), and each pattern has various idiosyncratic accessory rules.

Data from ablaut, play speech, and borrowings are also used extensively to discuss syncope vs. epenthesis analyses of short vowel; short u vs. recognition of labialized consonants kwgwqwxwgw; behavior of geminates; syllabification of sonorants in long consonantal strings; hiatus; and, pharyngealization ("emphasis").

The volume combines descriptive thoroughness and formal rigor with a sensitivity toward unsettled areas in the phonology--structural conflicts, pragmatic aspects of stem representation, and gradually evolving restructurings of the system.

Jeffrey Heath, a specialist in Arabic dialectology, taught at Harvard University and in Saudi Arabia. He is Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Michigan. This book is based on several years of fieldwork in Morocco.

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Table of Contents

Tables and Figures
Abbreviations and Symbols

I. Introduction

1.A. General

1.B. Fieldwork and Methodology

1.C. Ablaut and Other Transformative Processes

1.D. Preview of Major Phonological Issues

1.E. Ambiguity and Structural Conflict

1.F. Multitiered Analyses as Solutions for Ambiguity and Conflict

1.G. Lexicalization and Productivity

1.H. Review of Literature

II. Segments

2.A. Basic Consonants

2.B. /p v/

2.C. /T/

2.D. /?/

2.E. Affricates [j c]

2.F. Full Vowels /i a u/

2.G. /e a o ö ü/

2.H. Short vowels /ə ŭ/

2.I. Nasals and Nasalized Vowels


III. Affixal and Ablaut Morphology

3.A. Affixes

3.B. Definite Prefix /1-/

3.C. Phonology of Nominal/Adjectival Suffixes and Compounding

3.D. Ablaut: General Issues

3.E. Triliteral Verb Stems

3.F. Quadriliteral Verb Stems Including Ablaut Derivatives

3.G. Verbal Nouns

3.H. Participles

3.I. Nominal PLural

3.J. Nominal Diminutive

3.K. Agentive /CCCaC/ and Related Types

3.L. Professional Noun /CCaCC-i/ and Related Forms

3.M. Adjectival Ablaut (Plural, Diminutive, Elative)


IV. Other Sources of Phonological Data

4.A. Phonology of Classical Arabic Borrowings

4.B. Phonology of European Borrowings

4.C. Marked Intonation Patterns

4.D.Play Speech with Consonantal Inversion (

4.E. Play Speech with C1 Substitution (PSsub)

4.F. Historical and Dialectological Data


V. Stem Consonant Sequencing Constraints

5.A. Identical (Including Germinate) Consonants

5.B. Nasal-Stop Clusters

5.C. Liquids and Nasals

5.D. Sibilants

5.E. Uvulars and Pharyngeals

5.F. Summary


VI. Consonantal Bonding and Hiatus

6.A. Germinates

6.B. Alveolars

6.C. Labials

6.D. Hiatus (Repulsion of Bonding)


VII. The Vocalic System

7.A. Overview of Issues

7.B. Positional Restrictions on Short Vowels /ə ŭ/

7.C. Left-to-Right Positional Preferences for /i y ?/ Versus /u w u/

7.D. Short-vowel Deletion Rules: Syncope, Absorption, and Contraction

7.E. Labialization Reanalysis with /kw gw xw gw/

7.F. Epenthesis Reanalysis of Short Vowels

7.G. Syllabification and Vocalization

7.H. Cyclical Model of Syllabic Structure

7.I. Metrical Aspects of Prefixal Allomorphy

7.J. Effect of Position on Vocalization of Semivowels

7.K. Unproductive Alternations of Full and Short Vowels


VIII. Pharyngealization

8.A. Primary Oppositions /t t/, /d d/, and /s s/

8.B. /r r/

8.C. /z z/

8.D. Other Pharyngealized Consonants

8.E. /q g x H c?/ in Relation to Pharyngealization

8.F. Extent of Harmony Among Stem Consonants

8.G. General World-Level Models of Pharyngealization

8.H. Instrumental Data on /a/ in Stems and Affixes

8.I. Data from Ablaut and Play Speech

8.J. Blocking Segments

8.K. Vowel-Harmony Reanalysis with /i ä u/ and /e a o/

8.L. Conclusion

IX. Concluding Reflections

9.A. Left/Right Asymmetries

9.B. Ambiguity and Indeterminacy: A Balance Sheet

9.C. Functional Factors in Representations and Rules

9.D. Layering and Cyclicity

X. Schematic Recapitulation

10.A. Representation of Stems

10.B. Play Speech and Ablauts

10.C. Phonological Rules

References Cited

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