Phonological Substitution is Motivated by Adjacent Phonological Features: Evidence from Classical Arabic

Zainab Sa’aida


This article aims at investigating phonological substitution in classical Arabic. I hypothesise that consonantal and vocalic substitution is motivated by phonological features of adjacent consonantal or vocalic segments. Data of the study were collected from classical Arabic literary works in Aldiwan – encyclopaedia of Arabic poetry. Data were analysed in the framework of Chomsky and Halle’s SPE theory. Findings of the study have revealed that phonological features of consonantal or vocalic segments motivate other adjacent consonants to undergo a phonological substitution process in specific phonological contexts in classical Arabic. It has been revealed that the glide /w/ surfaces as /t/ when it is followed by /t/ or as /j/ when it occurs between two vowels, the first of which is high short /i/ and the second is low long /aː/, word-internally. The phoneme /t/ becomes /ṭ/ when it is preceded by /ṣ/, /ḍ/, /ṭ/ or /ð̣/ across a syllable, and it surfaces as /d/ when it is preceded by /d/, /z/ or /ð/ word-internally. It has been also found that the long vowels /aː, iː, uː/ replace glide phonemes in vocalic substitution processes when glides are adjacent to corresponding short vowels either word-internally or word-finally.

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English Linguistics Research
ISSN 1927-6028 (Print)   ISSN 1927-6036 (Online)

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