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 The Stress System of Casablanca Moroccan Arabic(suite)

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Date d'inscription : 25/11/2009
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MessageSujet: The Stress System of Casablanca Moroccan Arabic(suite)   Lun 30 Nov - 18:14

2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON MOROCCAN ARABIC STRESS
The last two decades have witnessed a growing body of research on MA stress. A common feature of the literature written on MA is that stress is phonetic and therefore does not interact with word-formation rules.
The body of work on MA stress falls into one of the two categories given below:
(i) Impressionistic 1: Abdelmassih (1973), Benkaddour (1982), Fares (1993), El Hadri (1993), and Benhallam (1990b). The works of the last three scholars include a quantitative analysis of stress.
(ii) Instrumental: Benkirane (1982), Hammoumi (1988), and Nejmi (1993, 1995).
Abdelmassih (1973) and Benkaddour (1982) try to analyze MA stress on the basis of corpuses that need reconsideration. The former did not include schwas where they should actually be; the latter assumes that MA has long vowels, something which is not true about the language. (For a detailed critical review of Abdelmassih and Benkaddour, the reader is referred to Benhallam, 1990b).
Fares (1993) analyzes stress in nouns and adjectives in Tetuan MA (TMA) which is one of the varieties spoken in the north of Morocco. This variety is characterized by the occurrence of full vowels in places where other varieties of MA have schwas. This means that any conclusion obtained from this study cannot be generalized to varieties such as the one described in the present work.
The subjects, all of whom have a linguistic background, were given a list of more than 400 adjectives and nouns and were asked to locate stress in these words. The results obtained
1 The appellation is due to Benhallam (1990) who classifies studies on MA stress into two categories: impressionistic and experimental (i.e. instrumental).
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show that more than 75 % of the total number of items receive stress on the penultimate syllable. Fares’ main findings can be summarized as follows:
(i) Stress assignment is postlexical, that is it applies after all morphological and phonological rules have applied.
(ii) Stress in TMA nouns is not different from stress in adjectives, that is both categories have identical stress patterns.
(iii) Stress is not affected by syllable weight (Cf. [msámaħ] ‘forgiven’ and [γúlal] ‘snails’ where the penultimate light syllable is stressed in spite of the fact that the final syllable is heavy).
To account for stress placement in TMA, Fares (1993: 282) proposes the following stress assignment rules:
-1-
Stress the penultimate syllable, except:
a. If the nucleus of the penultimate syllable is a schwa and the item contains more than three syllables, stress the antepenultimate syllable; otherwise stress the penult (e.g. [xnáfərna] ‘our nostrils’ and [swáyəʕkum] ‘your (pl.) watches’)
b. If the penultimate syllable is a prefix, stress the final syllable (e.g. [məsrúq] ‘stolen’ and [məbní] ‘built’)
Within the theoretical framework she adopted (Metrical Stress Theory), Fares (1993) has shown that stress is represented in terms of left-headed binary branching trees which are constructed from right to left. In order to account for cases with antepenultimate stress, which she considers as exceptional, she assumes ternary branching feet which are assigned by a rule that applies before the binary foot assignment rule. As to items with final stress, Fares has argued that these items are assigned binary branching feet which dominate the final syllable in the head position and a zero syllable node in the weak position.
In the same variety of MA, El Hadri (1993) analyzes stress in verbs within Metrical Theory. Two procedures were followed in the analysis of this phonological phenomenon. First, the subjects, who were all linguistics students at the English department, were given a list of more than 387 verbs and were asked to locate stress in these words. Second, the author proceeded by recording native speakers with no linguistic background. He then listened to
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these recordings and assigned stress on the basis of his intuition about the repetitions made by the subjects.
Out of a total number of 387 subjects, El Hadri (1993: 236) found out that 208 stress the penultimate syllable (about 54%), 126 stress the final syllable (about 33%), 31 stress the antepenultimate syllable (about 8%) and finally for more than three-syllable words, 22 subjects stress the initial syllable(about 6%). The findings obtained from his experiment do not differ much from those of Fares (1993). He has also found out that stress assignment rules are insensitive to syllable weight; it is the position of the syllable which is the determining factor. Further he has shown that these rules are not sensitive to vowel quality, that is both schwas and full vowels can be stressed. The only exception relates to the schwa and the morphological affiliation of the category within which it occurs. If the schwa is part of the stem, it gets stress as in the case of words such as [nkə́tbu] “we write” and [TaRʒəmli] “translate for me”; if it is part of an affix, it does not get stress as in words such as [nəbRá] “we recover” and [maTarʒmáləkʃi] “he did not translate it (fem.) for you”.
El Hadri (1993) further assumes that stress may be sensitive to the syntactic information of verbs, namely tense and aspect. Thus trisyllabic verbs in the perfective and imperfective aspect are generally stressed on the penultimate syllable as in [kətbúlum] ‘they wrote to them’ and [ʒawəbni] ‘he answered me’ while verbs in the imperative receive initial stress (cf. [kə́tbulum] and [ʒáwəbni]).
Benhallam (1990b) tries to quantify data on the intuitions of the native speaker of MA about the location of stress. His corpus was chosen in such a way that both full vowels [i, u, a] and the schwa [ə] would be tested in all possible environments. The items selected were disyllabic, trisyllabic and quadrisyllabic. His subjects, who were all linguistics students, were given a list of items and were asked to mark stress on the appropriate spot, relying on their intuition and on their prior knowledge of English word stress.
Benhallam’s (1990b) findings are reproduced in 2 below:
-2-
Stress the penultimate except,
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A. if the word starts by a sequence of CV syllables, stress the one in initial position: krínahum “we rented them.”
B. In disyllabics
a. in a structure such as CəCCəC, stress falls on the stem vowel: nəxdə́m “I work.”
b. in a structure CəCCVC, stress falls on the final syllable, that is the syllable which contains a full vowel: Trəztíh “you embroidered it (masc.)
C. If the penultimate syllable is an object clitic, stress the preceding syllable: kərkbíhalhum “roll (2 fem.sg.) it for them.”
The advantage of Benhallam’s experiment is that it is one of the fewest empirical studies of MA stress that tries to quantify the results. The generalizations obtained from this study seem to partially reflect the stress system of the language and therefore the tendency made in previous works, namely that stress falls on the penultimate syllable.
The common point among the works of Benhallam (1990b), El Hadri (1993) and Fares (1993) is that they all try to capture generalizations about stress by relying only on intuitions of native speakers. However, in order for these generalizations to hold for MA, they need to be corroborated by an instrumental study that should refute or confirm the intuition of the MA speaker about the placement of stress. Also, an instrumental analysis would have to examine the effect of clitics on word stress, that is whether or not they are counted in the assignment of stress.
The first instrumental work undertaken on MA stress is that of Benkirane (1982). The author submitted a corpus which consists of monosyllabic, disyllabic and trisyllabic words to 34 subjects who were asked in an auditory test to identify the stressed syllable. The patterns he considered are given in 2 below:
-3-
a. Monosyllabics
CVC bál he urinated
b. Disyllabics
CVCV bála cunning (sg.)
CV-CVC mazál it (masc.)/he is still …
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CVCVC bánan bananas
CV-CVC-V mazála it (fem.)/he is still …
CCVCVC lħánut store
c. Trisyllabics
CVCVCV taráza turban
CV-CVC-VC mazálin they are still …
CCVCVCV zzitúna olive
CVCVCVC tarázat turbans
CCVCVCVC lbaláwat cunning (pl.)
The results of the auditory test were confirmed by the instrumental one where 351 realizations were subjected to a study of fundamental frequency, intensity and duration. The conclusion Benkirane draws from both tests is that stress in MA falls on the ultimate syllable if it is heavy; otherwise it is on the penultimate syllable. The rule responsible for stress is formulated by Benkirane (1982: 78) as follows:
-4-
V ----------> [+accent] / ── C (V) # #
In spite of the instrumental nature of Benkirane (1982), the work is questionable from the empirical point of view. First, the rule in 4 does not reflect the stress patterns in 3. For example, the word [banan] receives penultimate stress instead of final stress as Benkirane’s rule predicts. Second, the patterns considered do not reflect all the syllable types of the language. For example, schwa syllables were neglected in the analysis in spite of the fact that they are also taken into account in the placement of stress. Third, not all syllable types are considered in different environments. That is, the patterns in 3 do not measure the effect of syllable weight on stress placement, an element which has been proved to be essential to the understanding of stress in MA (Benkaddour 1982, Bohas et al 1989, Bouziri 1991, and Nejmi 1993, 1995) and other languages (Hyman 1985, Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993a, Hung 1995, Hayes 1995, Pater 1995, Alber 1997, Green 1997, among others). Third, the patterns given above seem to point to the fact that stress in MA takes into consideration morphological boundaries, something which has been found not to be true in later experimental works (Hammoumi 1988 and Nejmi 1993, 1995).
The second instrumental work on MA is that of Hammoumi (1988). Hammoumi’s analysis is based on a corpus which contains 61 words ranging from two-syllable to five-
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syllable cliticized words in verbs and from two-syllable to seven-syllable cliticized words in nouns. The subjects were asked to identify the most prominent syllable and the results of the auditory test were subjected to an instrumental test which confirmed that fundamental frequency and duration are the most important parameters in stress.
The conclusion one can draw from Hammoumi’s analysis is that stress falls on one of the last two syllables of the word, a result confirmed by Nejmi (1993, 1995) and the work undertaken in this chapter. Furthermore, the analysis implicitly shows that one has to distinguish between two types of heavy syllables: CəC and CVC, and one type of superheavy syllable CV:C 2. The stress rules themselves scan the last syllable of word to assign stress first to a final superheavy syllable as in [ʕəgzá] “lazy”, then to a CVC as in [babkúm] “your (pl.) door”, and finally to a CəC heavy syllable as in [Sa:ħə́b] “friend” and [bəddə́l] “he changed”. If the last syllable is neither superheavy nor heavy, stress falls on the penultimate syllable as in [DRə́bti] “you (sing.) hit” and [qbí] “a tribe”.
Hammoumi’s analysis could be questioned for two reasons. First, unlike most of the work done on Moroccan Arabic, he assumes that the language has long vowels that shorten in specific environments without presenting evidence for that. Such an assumption about vowel length has serious implications on the analysis since work on stress in natural languages has shown that heavy syllables attract stress and that light syllables receive stress only in the absence of heavy ones. Second, his analysis implicitly equates CVC with CəC, a fact which is not true about MA (see Benkirane 1982, Al Ghadi 1990, 1994, Nejmi 1993 and Boudlal to appear a).
Perhaps the most elaborate instrumental work on MA stress (and more particularly on CMA stress) is that of Nejmi (1993), which analyzes stress in the variety spoken in Casablanca. It is so in the sense that the corpus studied is varied and takes into consideration the schwa and full vowels as well as the different syllables in different environments. The strategy followed was to undertake an auditory test where the subjects were asked to locate the most prominent syllable in a corpus which consists of 104 disyllabic and trisyllabic verbs and nouns. About 20 subjects with a linguistic background, aged between 24 and 30, were selected for this test and asked to provide three repetitions for the target words. Prior to that
2 In fact Hammoumi (1988) did not distinguish between light/heavy and superheavy but the analysis he presented implicitly makes this distinction. A super heavy syllable is represented here as CV:C where V: stands for a long vowel.
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task, the subjects were explained the task they had to do. The results of this test were quantified much in Benhallam’s (1990b) sense, and then subjected to a statistical analysis of the mean, the standard deviation and the probability to see their significance for any generalization to be made. The conclusion drawn is that stress is affected by syllable weight, i.e. whether the syllable is light or heavy; and by syllable position, i.e final or penultimate.
The perceptive test was followed by the acoustic test to see to what extent they match up. The recordings of three subjects underwent the instrumental analysis where the prosodic parameters of fundamental frequency, duration and intensity were considered. The analyzed syllabic patterns are: CVCCVC, CVCVC, CVCCV, CVCəC, CəCCV, CVCVCV and finally CVCCVCV.
The results obtained from the instrumental test confirm the perceptive test. The conclusion Nejmi (1993) draws is that the placement of stress in CMA depends on three factors: first, syllable weight, i.e. light versus heavy. Second, the nature of the heavy syllable. In this respect, Nejmi (1993) distinguishes between first degree CVC heavy syllables and second degree CəC heavy syllables 3. Third, stress placement takes into consideration the position of the syllable, i.e. final or penultimate syllable. According to him, the domain of stress in CMA is restricted to the final two syllables and this in contradistinction with the other Arabic dialects where stress may be on the antepenultimate syllable (Farwaneh 1996). According to Nejmi, the generalization governing stress in CMA could be stated as follows:
-5-
Stress the final syllable if it is a first degree heavy syllable; otherwise stress the penultimate.
This statement accounts for final stress in words such as [fəkrún] “turtle” and [məktabát] “book stores” and penultimate stress in words such as [xúxa] “a peach”, [wáʕdək] “he promised you”.
The only criticism that could be leveled at Nejmi (1993) is that it did not consider polysyllabic words. Nor did it consider cliticized words to see whether or not clitics affect
3 Nejmi (1993) uses the expressions “syllabe lourde du premier niveau” to refer to CVC heavy syllables, and “syllabe lourde du dexième niveau” to refer to CəC syllables, which he qualifies as second degree heavy syllables. (See chapter 2 and also the sections below for an argument against this distinction).
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word stress. In the sections to follow in this chapter, we will try to overcome this handicap and consider a varied corpus that ranges from two- to five-syllable words both cliticized and non-cliticized.
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