Labialization in Cairene Arabic

  • Islam Youssef Telemark University College
Keywords: phonology, Cairene Arabic, labialization, feature geometry, Optimality Theory


This paper investigates certain morphological categories in Cairene Arabic where the contrast between the short high vowels [i] and [u] is neutralized. The understanding of these neutralizations has direct consequences on the featural composition of different classes of segments. The analysis is formulated in the framework of the Parallel Structures Model of feature geometry, first introduced in Morén (2003, 2006, 2007) and further developed in work at CASTL. Assuming that features are language-specific but also articulatorily based, I motivate feature specifications for each participating segment and offer a straightforward autosegmental analysis of the distribution. The proposed analysis fits neatly into a constraint-based model and supports the growing body of literature claiming that representations are important even to optimality-theoretic analyses.