Vowel Deletion in Arabic Dialects of Yemen (ADY): A Linguistic Perspective

Sadeq Ali Al Yaari, Fayza Saleh Al Hammadi, Abubakar Buba Luwa


Background: Little is known about Arabic Dialects of Yemen (ADY) in comparison with other Arabic dialects and/ or varieties. The purpose of this study is to account for issues related to the distinctive features of vowel deletion in ADY, their rules, and their relationship with other dialects in the regions in light of Optimality Theory (OT).
Methods: Twenty seven subjects representing most ADY were interviewed to specify in which dialect short vowels are deleted. In order to carry out the purpose of this paper, samples of pictures plus a silent movie scene/ clip were given to the subjects to describe them in their local dialects.
Conclusions: The results outline that all ADY except Aden dialect delete short vowels, be it in the middle or at the end of the syllable, when they use the verb in the past form with 3rd.p.f.s.3rd.p.f.pl. and 3rd.p.m.p. There is no cause/effect relationship between vowel deletion and other process of consonants’ segmentation and/or those of syllabification.  A short vowel deletion is delimited to verbs; rather, it extends to include pronouns, overt infinitive in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Whereas eastern, western, northern dialects showed high vowel deletion, central dialects, namely, Taiz dialect and parts of Ibb city showed low vowel deletion.  It is also shown in this study that ADY contradicts the prediction of OT in two issues: the output and the diphthongs sounds. In response to these findings, the study proposes further positive answers based on chronological approach to questions addressed.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v4i2.1657

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