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Syllabification patterns in Arabic dialects: long segments and mora sharing*

  • Janet C. E. Watson (a1)

In Classical Arabic and many modern Arabic dialects, syllables ending in VVC or in the left leg of a geminate have a special status. An examination of Kiparsky's (2003) semisyllable account of syllabification types and related phenomena in Arabic against a wider set of data shows that while this account explains much syllable-related variation, certain phenomena cannot be captured, and several dialects appear to exhibit conflicting syllable-related phenomena. Phenomena not readily covered by the semisyllable account commonly involve long segments – long vowels or geminate consonants. In this paper, I propose for relevant dialects a mora-sharing solution that recognises the special status of syllables incorporating long segments. Such a mora-sharing solution is not new, but has been proposed for the analysis of syllables containing long segments in a number of languages, including Arabic (Broselow 1992, Broselow et al.1995), Malayalam, Hindi (Broselow et al.1997) and Bantu languages (Maddieson 1993, Hubbard 1995).

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