Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Baertsch, Karen

Abstract

This study examines the coda clusters in Classical Arabic and how Najdi speakers, modern inhabitants of the central area of Saudi Arabia, pronounce them. Fourteen Najdi participants were asked to read a list of thirty-one words that took into account falling, equal, and rising sonority clusters, consisting of obstruents, nasals, liquids, and glides. The instrument contained one, two, and three steps of sonority for each level of sonority (falling and rising) to determine the minimal sonority distance used in Najdi Arabic. Specifically, obstruent + nasal, nasal + liquid, and liquid + glide were included for falling sonority clusters of one step, obstruent + liquid and nasal + glide were used for falling sonority clusters of two steps, and only obstruent + glide for falling sonority clusters of three steps. To test the rising sonority clusters, the elements in the clusters were transposed for each combination; for example, instead of using obstruent + nasal, clusters of nasal + obstruent were considered. However, for equal sonority clusters, only obstruent + obstruent and nasal + nasal were examined. Obstruents were dealt with separately in the instrument at first to see whether they caused any difference in the results. The results showed that the subjects added epenthesis in the rising sonority clusters and equal sonority clusters containing sonorants. However, they did not add epenthesis in the falling sonority clusters or equal sonority clusters containing obstruents. Thus, no matter the distance in sonority between the two segments in the rising sonority clusters (one, two, or three steps), the participants always epenthesized them. In addition, no matter how many sonority steps there were between the two segments in the falling sonority clusters, the participants always produced them without modification. In case of equal sonority, when the two segments of the cluster were sonorants, the participants added epenthesis; however, when the two segments of the cluster were obstruents, the participants produced them without modification.

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