A Proposed Model of Optimality Theory for Jordanian Arabic Broken Plurals

Ahmad Khalaf Sakarna


One of the most challenging, but rather interesting, topics in the literature of Arabic phonology and morphology is the broken plurals (BP). The most widely acceptable account of Arabic BP, as far as I know, is McCarthy (1982) within the framework of Autosegmental Phonology. This paper presents and discusses the model of McCarthy (1982) and shows that it is unsatisfactory for providing a plausible account for Jordanian Arabic BP, as it suffers from a number of exceptions that McCarthy found hard to account for. The emergence of Optimality Theory (OT) in the 1990s has opened the door for further perspectives of treating different phonological problems. This paper shows that there are three major issues that constitute a challenge to McCarthy's Model of Arabic BP within the framework of Autosegmental Phonology. They include dialectal variation, the existence of more than one surface plural form for the same input, and the difference in the outputs of BP forms with the same underlying form. It also cannot account for the diverse shape of similar forms. As an alternative, this paper proposes a model within the framework of Optimality Theory that can account for and solve all the challenging problems for McCarthy’s model in a satisfactory and straightforward manner.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v6n1p48

English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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