Iraqi Arabic morphophonemics

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Language and Literature




This thesis gives an account of the alternations that occur in the root forms (in particular, in the triconsonantal verbal root) of Iraqi Arabic (IA) words as a result of morphological affixation (e.g. in the perfective and imperfective paradigm of verbs, nominative and accusative paradigms of nouns and in prepositional cliticization). The phonological alternations studied include vowel deletion, insertion, and lengthening, as well as consonant gemination and glide vocalization.^ In this thesis, the theoretical framework is that of generative phonology. Following Chomsky and Halle (1968), I assume that related words have identical segmental lexical representations down to affixes, and these representations are related to phonetic representations by rules of phonology. The segmental representations are given a hierarchical syllable structure analysis (Kahn(1976), Selkirk (1980, 1982)). These hierarchical structures are interpreted as X-bar type projections of vowels (Hong and Michaels (1985), Michaels (1985), Majdi and Michaels (1987)). That is, V$\sp0$ (the syllable head) projects a category V$\sp\prime$ (the rhyme) which optionally licenses a C-position (Coda), and V$\sp\prime$ projects a category V$\sp{\prime\prime}$ (the syllable) which obligatorily licenses a C-position (Onset). Each position licensed at the X$\sp0$ level can contain no more than one segment. The rules which relate underlying and surface syllable structure representations are restricted to context-free operations in line with current work in syntax (Chomsky (1981), Lasnik and Saito (1984)) and are constrained by locality conditions and the requirements of syllable structure preservation.^ In this thesis, the above mentioned phonological alternations are investigated as automatic consequences of the interaction of syllable structure and stress assignment. As in other Semitic languages, consonantal roots must be preserved in IA. Fitting these consonantal roots into possible syllables requires the creation of syllable heads (vowel insertion) to license stranded consonants or the removal of syllable heads (vowel deletion) which are themselves stranded. Vowel lengthening and consonant gemination are investigated.^ The analysis also provides an account for the quality of affixation which affects the perfective and imperfective paradigms. The thesis argues that the two are formed by one affix system with an alternative realization in prefix and suffix forms. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^