Palatalization in educated Cairene Arabic


  • Islam Youssef University College of Southeast Norway



phonology, palatalization, Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, coarticulation, phonetics, language change, sociolinguistics


In the speech of some educated Cairenes, the coronal stops /t d tˤ dˤ/ acquire a secondary palatal articulation before high front vowels and glides, resulting in [tj] or [dj]. Based on first-hand data, this article provides a detailed phonetic and phonological investigation of this palatalization process in an attempt to fill a descriptive gap in the literature on Cairene Arabic. By examining the full range of triggers, targets, and potential blockers, I demonstrate that this is a phonetic coarticulatory effect, and that it should be distinguished from phonological assimilation. I also explore the hypothesis that this process – characterized as a sound change in progress – has been phonologized in a different sociolect of Cairene Arabic.