The Analysis of Coda Clusters in Jizani Arabic: An OT Perspective

  •  Raneem Bosli    
  •  Lynne Cahill    


This paper explains how native speakers of Jizani Arabic (henceforth, JA) treat final consonant clusters in superheavy syllables (CVCC) using a parallel Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky, 1993, 2004) to show how the theory can account for the cross-linguistic variations of coda clusters through the ranking of different constraints. JA is a Saudi dialect spoken in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia in Jizan city. It is common among many Saudi Arabic dialects like Najdi, Hijazi, Taifi and Qassimi that rising sonority in coda clusters is avoided by using vowel epenthesis to comply with the Sonority Sequencing Principle (henceforth, SSP), where there is no difference between nasals and liquids. However, in JA, we observe that vowel epenthesis occurs only if the last segment in CVCC is a liquid (/l/ or /ɾ/); for instance, /tʕifl/à [tʕifil] ‘child’ and /ħibɾ/à [ħibiɾ] ‘ink’. The vowel has been epenthesized because the last consonant in both examples is more sonorous than the preceding obstruents. However, the vowel will not be inserted if the final consonant is a nasal preceded by an obstruent; for instance, /laħm/à[laħm] ‘meat’ and /ɡutʕn/à[ɡutʕn] ‘cotton’. Although the universal sonority scale ranks nasals as more sonorous than obstruents, nasals in JA behave as they are equally sonorous as obstruents. In other words, nasals in this dialect group with stops and fricatives in the sonority scale.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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