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.)”
• 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.”