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Title: Phonological variation and change in Mesopotamia :a study of accent levelling in the Arabic dialect of Mosul
Authors: Ahmed, Abdulkareem Yaseen
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study investigates current patterns of phonological variation and change in the dialect of Arabic spoken in Mosul (MA), Iraq. Four traditional phonological variables of MA, two consonants and two vowels that are hypothesised to be undergoing change in this dialect were chosen for analysis. The consonant variables are the rhotic variable and the variable qāf or (q)1. The two vocalic variables are the realisation of MOSUL vowel2 and word-final (a)3. These variables were subjected to auditory analysis (consonants) and acoustic analysis (vowels). The extracted data were subjected to statistical analysis using mixed-effect linear and logistic regression models using R and Rbrul. Results reveal that there is more to the variation in these variables than what has previously been inadequately described in the literature. These results provide fresh insights on the structural and social behaviour of the variables investigated and establish that the existing traditional variants (notably the rhotic variable and MOSUL vowel) are across-the-board and challenge constraints previously described in the literature to be at play in their behaviour. Results suggest that Maṣlāwis show linguistic and social variability in the use of the variables assessed in this study. Speakers did not show much variability in producing the (q) variable with the traditional variant [q] is well maintained by all speakers. Results also offer tenable evidence that a process of levelling is occurring in MA in that traditional phonological forms of MA are becoming recessive in the speech of younger generations, albeit not in a wholesale fashion. This was evidenced by the decreasing use of local forms of the rhotic variable (i.e. uvular realisation) in the face of the supralocal apical form. A similar trend has also been found in the realisation of MOSUL vowel and word-final (a) in that the traditional (in height, advancement and duration) realisations of these two variables is also decreasing. It is suggested that the change in MA is due to a number of largely sociopolitical and economic factors that have resulted in bringing people of Mosul in contact with swathes of migrants largely of Bedouin backgrounds. These factors have also been operating in other Arab and Western settings notwithstanding particularities. The study also puts this change 1 It should be noted that the notation (q) or qā f, which is the 21st letter in Arabic alphabet, will be interchangeably used to denote the variable while /q/ and [q] will also be used to denote phonemic and phonetic qualities, where applicable. 2 It concerns the realisation of /uː/. For the sake of clarity and convenience, I notated this variable by a mnemonic keyword: MOSUL, which itself has the realisation of traditional of the vowel [oː]. The use of keywords was first proposed by John Wells (Wells, 1982) and is now a common practice in this type of studies. The small-cap word (MOSUL) will be used for denoting the variable to avoid confusion with the word Mosul (the city). 3This variable will be notated as (a) when referred to as a sociolinguistic variable. However, a phonemic or phonetic notation will also be used, where applicable. XIV within the wider context of Iraqi Arabic (IA) to reconstruct a three-wave model of change that occurred in Iraqi Arabic dialects. This is to draw the big picture of the situation of not only Mosul but also other qeltu-speaking areas, which undergo rather similar linguistic and nonlinguistic conditions.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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