Word Final Consonant Clusters in Najdi Arabic: An Optimality Theory Approach
This study examines word
final consonant clusters in Najdi, an understudied variety of
Arabic spoken in central Saudi Arabia. Sixteen participants read words that took into
account falling, plateau, and rising sonority consonant clusters containing obstruents,
nasals, liquids, and glides. The instrument included various sonority distances for falling
and rising sonority clusters. In the results, participants added epenthesis in rising
sonority clusters and in plateau sonority clusters containing sonorants but not in falling
sonority clusters or in plateau sonority clusters containing obstruents. The study
incorporated optimality theory to organize Najdi Arabic’s apparent constraints and adds
to the literature on how the sonority sequencing principle, minimal sonority distance, and
markedness hypothesis can help predict what types of consonant clusters Najdi speakers
are likely to modify.
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