This study acoustically compares lexically short vowels in Palestinian Arabic to vowels that are underlyingly long, but have undergone closed syllable shortening, a phonological process affecting certain CV:CC sequences (as in /faːq-ʃ/ → faqʃ ‘woke-negative’; /ӡaːb-l-ak/ → ӡablak ‘brought to you’). In a study of word pairs produced by 74 speakers, the two vowel types were found to be indistinguishable in duration. Speakers differ as to the contexts in which they apply shortening: some shorten before the negative suffix /-ʃ/, but not the dative suffix /-l/, likely due to paradigm leveling. The results are compared to earlier studies finding incomplete neutralization in Arabic vowel epenthesis, to identify factors that affect completeness of neutralization. It appears that orthography is not an important factor, but that morphologized or lexicalized processes produce more complete neutralization. It is proposed that allomorphs produced by more fossilized processes are more weakly linked in the mental lexicon, and that incomplete neutralization of vowel quantity in particular would require linkage through the abstract CV word pattern.
Arabic, incomplete neutralization, vowel quantity, vowel shortening
How to Cite
Hall, N., (2017) “Phonetic neutralization in Palestinian Arabic vowel shortening, with implications for lexical organization”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 48. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.257