The Interaction between Assimilation and Anti- Gemination: The definite Article ‘I’ Assimilation in Turaif Arabic.

Khalaf M. Alshammiry


Abstract: Bakovic (2005), states that the avoidance of “sufficiently similar” adjacent consonants, similar except for a small subset of specific features, is the result of interaction between assimilation process and anti-gemination (here, epenthesis);that is to say, epenthesis applies between adjacent non-identical consonants if and only if assimilation between the non-identical consonants would lead to the creation of a geminate. Pajak (2009), following Bakovic, provides data from the phonological behavior of pro-clitics and the Coronal Place Assimilation, CPA, in Polish in support of the primary consequence of this analysis and shows that there are contextual constraints on geminates and argues that geminate is avoided via epenthesis in a non-vowel adjacent contexts. In this paper, using Optimality Theory (McCarthy and Prince (1993, 1994) and Prince and Smolensky (1993)),this paper presents an account for the definite article “l” assimilation found in the phonology of the dialect of Turaif Arabic (TA henceforth); a dialect spoken inthe northern region of Saudi Arabia. The data show that it is not only adjacent consonants with a small subset of specific features that could result in assimilation but also adjacent consonants that are very different with no shared feature/s or with one and only one shared feature, (+coronal); in addition, the data in one hand support the essence of Pajak’s segmental condition on germination;that is to say, gemination always occurs in vowel-adjacent consonants in VCCVcontexts. However, on the other hand, the paper, contradicting Pajak’s finding,shows that single-vowel-adjacent contexts are also good environment for assimilation and germination; neither epenthesis nor deletion is required in asingle-vowel-adjacent geminate. I attribute the behavior of the definite article ‘l’to a number of highly-ranked interacting constraints in the dialect, *CdefartCC,Max (C), and Dep (V). it appears that this phenomenon is just a language specific phenomenon that occurs only and only with the definite article ‘l’ inTuraif Arabic.

Key Words: Assimilation, Gemination, Dialect, Variation, Cluster

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