Affix not Clitic-Based Vowel Shortening in Modern Arabic Varieties


Word formation in most languages is inextricably linked to a distinction between clitics and affixes. Although famous for its templatic morphological structure, Arabic also contains concatenative formatives some of whose status as clitics or affixes is controversial. It is well known that Arabic varieties exhibit a range of interacting shortening and lengthening processes. Some of the shortening processes have been linked to the clitic/affix distinction in the Arabic literature. In this paper, I discuss two vowel shortening processes, CSS-Morph and CSS-Phon, that are often conflated as the same Closed Syllable Shortening process. Based on evidence from 16 modern Arabic varieties, I show that these CSS processes are in fact two independent processes. While CSS-Morph is a phonological alternation within a morphophonological context, CSS-Phon is purely phonological. Neither provides evidence to classify any formative as a clitic or indeed differentiate between formatives as suffixes or clitics.

In Transactions of the Philological Society
Dr Emily Lindsay-Smith
Dr Emily Lindsay-Smith
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include phonology, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics and Arabic linguistics.