The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle: Nabila Louriz

This week’s Phonology Circle presentation will be by Nabila Louriz
Title: He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not: Irregularities in nasal vowel adaptation in Moroccan Arabic
Time: Mon Mar 17, 5pm, 32-D831

The aim of this talk is to analyse the repair strategies of nasal vowels in French loanwords in Moroccan Arabic. The claim has been that in languages that lack phonemic nasal vowels, the latter is repaired as a sequence of oral vowel + nasal consonant (VN, henceforth). That is the nasal vowel undergoes the process of “unpacking” and is adapted as VN (Paradis & Lacharite 1996, Paradis and Prunet 2000, Rose 1999, to name but a few). Paradis and Lacharite (1996) introduce evidence from French loans in Fula, Kinyarwanda, and Moroccan Arabic to show that the nasal vowel is “universally” adapted as a sequence of VN as long as the requirement of the Theory of Constraints and Repair Strategies (1986) (TCRS, hereafter) are met, namely the Threshold Principle. Subsequently, Rose (1999) introduced a structural account of Root node deletion/preservation to explain nasal adaptation, presenting evidence from Fula and Kenyarwanda. He basically claims that the nasal part of the nasal vowel (which is the result of unpacking) is preserved when there is an available licenser, and deleted only when there is none. I will bring these two approaches together to account for the adaptation of nasal vowels in French loanwords in Moroccan Arabic. The latter does not seem to adopt one strategy to “fix” the ill formed segments. Consider the following examples:

MA French Gloss
gufəl Gonfler Swell
klakson klaxon Horn
kwansa coincer To block
zbiktur inspecteur Inspector
kofra Coup-franc Out-of-boards
Fran frein Brake

It seems that there is no uniform for adapting nasal vowels in Moroccan Arabic. It is repaired is as (i) VN , (ii) V (iii) or deleted altogether. Maybe that is what drives some researcher to blame it on “complicating analogical factors” (Paradis & Prunet, 2000), or morphological factors (Heath, 1989). I shall present an analysis that cam account for the different strategies manifested in the examples above, namely, one that incorporates both phonology and phonetics. I will discuss how phonology and phonetics interact in accounting for the asymmetry manifested in the loanwords data.