Phonological conditioning of affricate variability in Emirati Arabic

Marta Szreder, Donald Derrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the conditioning effects of neighbouring consonants on the realisation of the phonemes /k/ and /d/ in Emirati Arabic (EA), which are optionally realised as [tʃ] and [j], respectively. Based on previous accounts of EA and other Gulf Arabic (GA) dialects, we set out to test the prediction that proximity of other, phonetically similar coronal (COR) obstruents [COR, -son, -cont] and coronal postalveolar fricatives [COR, -ant] inhibit the surface realisation of the affricate variants of these phonemes. We examine elicitation data from twenty young female native speakers of EA, using stimuli with the target segment in the presence of a similar neighbour, as compared to words with the neighbour at a longer distance or with another coronal consonant. The results point to an asymmetry in the behaviour of the voiced and voiceless targets, such that the predicted inhibitory effect is confirmed for the voiced, but not the voiceless target. We argue that this finding, coupled with a consideration of the intra-participant and lexical trends in the data, is compatible with an approach that treats the two processes as being at different stages of development, where the [k] alternation is a completed phonemic change, while the [dj] alternation is a synchronic phonological process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the International Phonetic Association
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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