Syllables and Syllable Structure in Arabic in the Light of the Optimality Theory

by Open Science Repository Language and Linguistics
(May 2013)


The objective of this article is to explore the phonological property of syllable structure in Arabic, mainly, the Madina Hijazi Arabic (MHA), spoken in Madina Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia. The framework used in this article is the Optimality Theory (hence OT), first proposed by Prince and Smolensky (1993) and elaborated later by McCarthy and Prince (1993a, b, 1995, and 1999). In this paper I demonstrate that a small set of constraints independently motivated for the analysis of syllable structure within Optimality Theory is sufficient to account for the gross characteristics of MHA syllable structure. This sufficiency is an important factorial typological consequence of the ranking of violable universal constraints, the cornerstone assumption of OT, a fact that serves as the primary motivating force behind this line of investigation. The constraints involved in the analysis and the logic of their interactions with one another turn out to reveal some important properties of constraint (in)activity through ranking in OT, a topic which I devote particular attention. It is argued that prosodic aspects such as syllable structure and many phonological and morphological processes are better understood as cases involving interaction between two types of conflicting universal constraints: Markedness constraints and Faithfulness constraints.

Keywords: syllables and syllable structure, phonology, optimality theory.

Full text

Syllables and Syllable Structure in Arabic in the Light of the Optimality Theory

Click here to post comments

Return to journal abstracts.