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Syllabification in Moroccan Arabic: evidence from patterns of temporal stability in articulation*

  • Jason Shaw (a1), Adamantios I. Gafos (a1), Philip Hoole (a2) and Chakir Zeroual (a3)

Competing proposals on the syllabification of initial consonants in Moroccan Arabic are evaluated using a combination of experimental and modelling techniques. The proposed model interprets an input syllable structure as a set of articulatory landmarks coordinated in time. This enables the simulation of temporal patterns associated with the input syllable structure under different noise conditions. Patterns of stability between landmarks simulated by the model are matched to patterns in data collected with Electromagnetic Articulometry experiments. The results implicate a heterosyllabic parse of initial clusters so that strings like /sbu/ comprise two syllables, [s.bu]. Beyond this specific result for Moroccan Arabic, the model reveals the range of validity of certain stability-based indexes of syllable structure and generates predictions that allow evaluation of a syllabic parse even when stability-based heuristics break down. Overall, the paper provides support for the broad hypothesis that syllable structure is reflected in patterns of temporal stability and contributes analytical tools to evaluate competing theories on the basis of these patterns.

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