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The OCP as a synchronic constraint in Arabic

  • Eiman Mustafawi (a1)

Abstract

This paper provides evidence for the activity of the Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP) as a constraint on dynamic alternations in the synchronic grammar of Qatari Arabic. It shows that the OCP is subject to proximity and to a gradient similarity effect. In Qatari Arabic, there are two variable phonological alternations that interact with the OCP, affrication and lenition. The velar stops /g/ and /k/ affricate to [ʤ] and [ʧ], respectively, when adjacent to [i(:)]. However, affrication is blocked when the outcome includes a sequence of segments that are highly similar. Lenition applies variably to the phoneme /ʤ/, which surfaces as [ʤ] or [j]. Usually, the probability of lenition applying to its eligible candidates is around the level of chance. The process, however, applies categorically when a violation of the OCP would otherwise be incurred. The data are analyzed within the framework of Optimality Theory.

Résumé

Cet article présente des preuves de l’activité du Principe du contour obligatoire (PCO) comme contrainte sur les alternances dynamiques dans la grammaire synchronique de l’arabe qatari. L’article montre que le PCO est sujet à la proximité et à un effet variable de similarité. Dans l’arabe qatari, il y a deux alternances phonologiques variables qui interagissent avec le PCO : l’affrication et la lénition. Les occlusives vélaires /g/ et subissent l’affrication devenant [ʤ] and [ʧ] respectivement lorsqu’elles sont adjacentes à [i(:)]. Cependant, l’affrication est bloquée lorsque le résultat comporte une séquence de segments très similaires. La lénition s’applique de manière variable au phonème /ʤ/, donnant [ʤ] ou [j]. D’habitude la probabilité que la lénition s’applique aux candidats susceptibles de subir la lénition est au niveau du hasard. Le processus, cependant, s’applique de manière catégorique dans le cas où une violation du PCO en résulterait. Les données sont analysées dans le cadre de la Théorie de l’Optimalité.

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