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Title:Similarity and phonotactics in Arabic
Authors:Stefan Frisch, Michael Broe, Janet Pierrehumbert
Comment:55 pages. Word perfect document requires SIL Doulos IPA font.
Abstract:The statistical patterns of language are systematic linguistic data

which must be accounted for in linguistic theory. The phonotactics of

the Arabic verbal roots are presented as a case study. In Arabic, the

acceptability of a verbal root is gradiently dependent on the

similarity of homorganic consonant pairs within the root. We propose

the stochastic constraint model of phonological patterning, in which

the relative frequency of a phonological form provides a measure of its

acceptability. The stochastic constraint model can be parameterized to

account for gradient or categorical constraints. We also propose a

novel similarity metric for phonological segments based on the

representational framework of structured specification. Structured

specification provides a basis for a similarity metric for phonemes

that is sensitive to featural redundancy and contrastiveness. This

metric is superior to previous proposals using underspecification. The

account of Arabic consonant cooccurrence using similarity and the

stochastic constraint provides a more accurate account of the data than

the non-quantitative autosegmental account, demonstrating that a

quantitative description is necessary to capture the true pattern of

the data.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1