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Preliminary notes on Ghomara Arabic: issues in the vowel system

  • Amina Naciri-Azzouz (Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain)
Tuesday 13 December 2016
Friday Afternoon Lectures
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Please note that this FridayAfternoonLecture will take place on a Tuesday


The Arabic spoken in Ghomara (Chefchaouen province, north-western Morocco) is a Jebli dialect, forming part of the non-Hilalien group following the historical-dialectological division of Arabic. Ghomara Arabic varieties present an important variation from a dialectological point of view due to the relative isolation of the mountainous region where they are spoken until recently. There is internal dialectal variation, which is typical in mountainous areas, and variation with regard to the levelling processes instigating linguistic change.

I will introduce my current PhD research on Ghomara Arabic varieties, with particular emphasis on the vowel system. The Northern Moroccan Arabic vowel system is debatable to some extent because of the unclear length distinctions at the phonetic level. On the one hand, it has been argued that long vowels are merged at the surface level with slight impact on morphology (Heath 2002); and on the other, a set of minimal pairs have been shown to prove the existence of a length distinction (Aguadé 2003; Behnstedt & Benabbou 2002). I will discuss the issues in analysing vowel length in Ghomara Arabic, and present some preliminary notes on its vowel system, based on a corpus collected during fieldwork between March 2014 and June 2015, as well as on consultation with speakers.


Aguadé, Jordi. 2003. “Estudio descriptivo y comparativo de los fonemas del árabe dialectal marroquí”, Estudios de dialectología norteafricana y andalusí 7: 59-109.

Behnstedt, Peter & Benabbou, Mostafa. 2002. “Zu den arabischen Dialekten der Gegend von Tāza (Nordmarokko)”, in Werner Arnold & Hartmut Bobzin (eds.), „Sprich doch mit deinen Knechten aramäisch, wir verstehen es!“ 60 Beiträge zur Semitistik: Festschrift für Otto Jastrow zum 60. Geburtstag zum 60 Gebursta: 53-72. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Heath, Jeffrey. 2002. Jewish and Muslim Dialects of Moroccan Arabic. London: Routledge Curzon.

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