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Title: Syllable structure and related processes in optimality theory :an examination of Najdi Arabic
Authors: Alqahtani, Mufleh Salem M
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study is an investigation of syllable structure and related processes in one variety of Saudi Arabic. This is the variety spoken by inhabitants of Riyadh and villages near this city in Najd province, henceforth referred to as Najdi Arabic (NA). Although this dialect has been analysed by scholars including Johnstone (1963, 1967), Lehn (1967), Ingham (1971, 1982, 1994), Abboud (1979), Al-Sweel (1987, 1990), Prochazka (1988), Kurpershoek (1999), Alezets (2007), Alessa (2008), and Alghmaiz (2013), syllable structure and related processes in this dialect have not been accounted for within Optimality Theory (OT). Therefore, the main goal of this thesis is to show how OT, as an analytical framework, is utilized to produce a better understanding syllable structure and related processes such as CV metathesis, epenthesis, vowel shortening, and syncope in NA. Accordingly, the fundamental aims of this thesis are to examine phonological processes that have an impact on the syllable structure in this dialect and to show the insights about NA syllable structures and related processes that can be gained through OT analyses. The research draws on previous work on NA as well as other Arabic varieties more generally. Thus, the theoretical literature on syllables, syllable structures and syllable typologies are taken into consideration in the analysis of NA data. The data for this study are drawn from articles, essays, theses, and journals. These sets of data underwent my own judgment as an NA native speaker. In addition, 15 native speakers of NA were interviewed and consulted on the NA set of data in this thesis. There are four findings in this study. The first deals with the comprehensive analysis of syllable structure in NA, focusing on the types of onsets and codas as well as the weight of syllables in this dialect. The second extends to the comprehensive analysis that deals with the main phonological processes in NA, focusing on CV-metathesis, epenthesis, vowel shortening, and syncope. The third sheds light on the unified set of OT constraints that has been established to explain NA syllable structure and related processes within OT. Finally, the capability of OT to account for cross-linguistic variation is demonstrated by showing how language-specific constraint rankings based on one set of constraints accounts for CV metathesis, vowel epenthesis, and syncope in Najdi and Urban Hijazi Arabic (UHA).
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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