The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 4/30 - Nabila Louriz & Michael Kenstowicz

Speakers: Nabila Louriz (Hassan-II, Casablanca) and Michael Kenstowicz (MIT)
Title: On the adaptation of vowels in French loanwords into Moroccan Arabic
Date/Time: Monday, 30 April 2018, 5:00-6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

 Moroccan Arabic has a simple three-vowel phonemic system /i, u, a/ plus epenthetic schwa. The vowels appear as /e, o, ɑ/ in the context of an emphatic (pharyngealized) consonant. As shown by examples such as boîte > /bwaT/ ‘tin can’ (cf. /bwiyT-a/ diminutive), French loanwords with /o, a/ (and sometimes /e/) are regularly borrowed with pharyngeal consonants—a striking example of enhancement dubbed “reverse engineering” in Kenstowicz & Louriz (2009). In this presentation we briefly review this finding and then focus on the adaptation of French nasal vowels. Three contexts are considered. Word-medial nasal vowels are adapted as oral vowel plus homorganic nasal consonant: congé [kɔʒ̃e] ‘holiday’ appears as /kuɲʒi/. Word-final nasal vowels sometimes appear with a nasal consonant and at other times as a simple vowel with no trace of nasality: Fr bouchon [buʃɔ̃] ‘bottle stopper’ > MA /buʃun/ but bâtiment [batimã] ‘building’ > MA /baTima/. Finally, word-initial vowels are often deleted: infirmier ‘nurse’ > /fərmli/. Our discussion focuses on some of the factors that may underlie the variation.