Shared Vowels in English Loanwords in Arabic: Variation in Similarity-Based Adaptation


This paper investigates vowel adaptation in English-based loanwords by a group of Saudi Arabic speakers, concentrating exclusively on shared vowels between the two languages. It examines 5 long vowels shared by the two vowel systems in terms of vowel quality and vowel duration in loanword productions by 22 participants and checks them against the properties of the same vowels in native words. To this end, the study performs an acoustic analysis of 660 tokens (loan and native vowel sounds) through Praat to measure the first two formants (F1: vowel height and F2: vowel advancement) of each vowel sound at two temporal points of time (T1: the vowel onset and T2: the peak of the vowel) as well as a durational analysis to examine vowel length. It reports that measurements of the first two formants of vowels in native words appear to be stable during the two temporal points while values of the same vowel sounds occurring in loanwords are fluctuating from T1 to T2 and that durational differences exist between loanword vowels in comparison with vowels of native words in such a way that vowels in native words are longer in duration than the same vowels appearing in loanwords.


Musa Alahmari


adaptation, loanwords, nativization, perception, similarity