Cairene Arabic Word Stress: A Constraint-Based Analysis

Rasheed Al-Jarrah


This paper is an account of Cairene Arabic word-stress patterns in a constraint-based framework (Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993a, b). In order to do just that, we demonstrate two things: (1) the set of constraints whose violations yield sub-optimal forms, and (2) the relative ranking of these constraints. It is shown that the constraints whose violation may yield incorrect stress patterns in Cairene Arabic are Lx=Pr, PARSE-, MAIN-RIGHT, ALL-FEET-LEFT, TROCHAIC, NONFINAL, and FOOT BINARITYm. We also show that, for Cairene Arabic word-stress placement purposes, the relative ranking of these universal and violable constraints is as follows: TROCHAIC, MAIN-RIGHT, Lx=Pr, PARSEsmmm >> NONFINAL >> PARSEsmm >> FOOT-BINARITYm>> ALL-FEET-LEFT >> ALL-FEET-RIGHT. Adopting claims made in Al-Jarrah (2002), the present study departs from other analyses of Arabic word stress in at least two things. First, it is argued that NONFINAL is an effect of parsibility, not “a substantive stress-specific constraint” (See Prince and Smolensky 1993: 42; Crowhurst 1996: 415; Hyde 2003: 2). And second, the discussion provides evidence that some constraints can be relativized, namely relativizing PARSE- to syllable weight.


Cairene Arabic, Arabic word stress, Optimality Theory, Constraint ranking.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.