A lexical phononology study of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)
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This is a descriptive study of the phonology and morphology of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) spoken in Cairo, Egypt. The study, conducted within the framework of the Lexical Phonology (LP) theory, aims at examining and describing, in detail, the nature of the relationship between the phonology and morphology of the MSA lexicon with a view to determine what role morphological and phonological rules play in the word formation processes and organization of the MSA lexicon. In view of the arguments presented by proponents of the LP theory with respect to the supposedly universal phonological and morphological principles of language, this study sets out to investigate and determine, the extent to which these universal principles are applicable in MSA. The study is guided by our research problem, which is to investigate the nature of the relationship between phonology and morphology in the organization of the MSA lexicon. It seeks to achieve several objectives; key among them being, to conduct a descriptive analysis of the phonology and morphology of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), using the parameters of the Lexical Phonology (LP) framework. To be able to answer the specific research questions raised in the study, we obtained data by recording a series of conversations in various settings while focusing on specific issues and concerns that had a bearing on the objectives of the study. Through the data collected and analyzed, we were able to identify various phonological and morphological processes in MSA as well as test the application of the various principles laid out in the LP theory. Motivated by our study objectives, we identified severall hypotheses which we tested and provided the results of the tests in the conclusion section of the study. Our data comprised both written and oral texts. The written texts were prepared and read orally by one of our informants to enable us analyze the phonological component. They consisted of prepared texts and excerpts from Egyptian newspapers. We also recorded three discussion programs aired on the Egyptian TV Channel I, three lessons recorded on the Arabic by Radio program as well as four oral interviews by one of my informants. We transcribed the data and analyzed it focusing on the various morphological and phonological aspects of MSA that we intended to investigate. After a comprehensive analysis of the data, and in view of the postulations of the LP theory, we established that with the exception of the stress neutral and non-neutral affixes principle, the other major principles of LP are indeed applicable to MSA. We therefore conclude that notwithstanding the limitations of the LP theory manifested in its inability to account for certain aspects of the MSA grammar, such as stress placement, the LP theory is, by and large, a useful tool in the description of the phonology and morphology of Modern Standard Arabic.
University of Nairobi, Kenya