Today we’ll be looking at a few more “vowel clippings” that happen in Levantine Arabic.

Vowel clippings of participle forms.

• The initial mu- is shortened to just m- in the participle forms mufaʕʕil (مُفَعِّل), mufaʕʕal (مُفَعَّل), mufāʕil (مُفاعِل), and mufāʕal (مُفاعَل). This change doesn’t affect classicisms.

Classical: muʕallim مُعلّم “teacher”

Levantine: mʕallim مْعلّم

Classical: munāsib مُناسب “appropriate”

Levantine: mnāsib مْناسب

• The initial muta- is shortened to mit- in participle forms mutafaʕʕil (مُتَفَعِّل) and mutafāʕil (مُتَفاعِل). This change doesn’t affect classicisms.

Classical: mutajawwiz مُتَجوّز “married”

Levantine: midjawwiz مِدْجوّز

Classical: mutaṣāliħ مُتَصالح “reconciled”

Levantine: mitṣāliħ مِتْصالح

Notice in the first example the assimilation of /t/ to /d/ when next to /j/.

2. Deletion of unstressed short /i/ and /u/ vowels.

• Levantine Arabic frequently deletes unstressed short /i/ and /u/ in certain contexts. Consider the following example:

Levantine: ʔāsif آسِف “sorry (m.)”

Levantine: ʔāsfe آسْفة “sorry (f.)”

Levantine: ʔāsfīn آسْفين “sorry (pl.)”

In the first example, the /f/ is at the end of a syllable, and so the vowel before it is preserved. But in the second two examples, the /f/ is needed to begin another syllable, and so the short /i/ vowel before it is dropped. Here’s another example but with a short /u/.

Levantine: باخُد bāxud “I take”

Levantine: باخْدك bāxdak “I’ll take you.”

• This change often renders the distinction between geminated (“doubled”) and non-geminated consonants unnoticeable.

Levantine: mʕallim مْعلّم “teacher (m.)”

Levantine: mʕallme مْعلّْمة (= mʕalme) “teacher (f.)”

In the second word, a geminated consonant is now followed directly by another consonant. In such cases, there is no audible difference between a geminated and a non-geminated consonant. But the gemination doesn’t totally disappear, since it still expresses itself if given the chance.

Levantine: mʕallimtī معلّمتي “my teacher (f.)”

(note: this is primarily a Syrian form)

• The same thing happens in verbs of the II and V paradigms. But notice how this only affects short /i/ or /u/, while short /a/ is preserved.

Levantine: ʕallimnī علّمني “teach me! (m.)”

Levantine: ʕallmīnī علّميني (= ʕalmīnī) “teach me! (f.)”

Levantine: ʕallmūnī علّموني (= ʕalmūnī) “teach me! (pl.)”

Levantine: ʕallamūnī علّموني “they taught me.”

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