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On the status of the interdental fricatives /ṯ/, /ḏ/, and /ḍ/ in Gaza City

William M Cotter

As De Jong (2000) noted in his analysis of the dialect, the status of the historical interdental fricatives, /ṯ/, /ḏ/, and /ḍ/ in Gaza City is unclear. Early dialectological work (Bergsträsser 1915) notes the stop counterparts, [t], [d], and [ḍ], as the primarily realizations of the interdental fricatives in Gaza. However, the texts contained in Salonen's (1979/80) account of the dialect provide a contrasting hypothesis, with interdental fricative reflexes for both /ṯ/ and / ḏ/ and a questionable status of /ḍ/ with dialectal realizations varying between [ẓ] and [ḍ] (Salonen 1979: 38).Stemming from fieldwork conducted in Gaza in May 2013, this study re-examines the status of the interdentals in Gaza City. Preliminary results suggest that for /ṯ/ and /ḏ/ the present dialect of Gaza appears to be firmly in line with Bergsträsser's earliest account; showing widespread use of the stop counterparts [t] and [d] in casual speech. With respect to the emphatic interdental /ḍ/, the corpus shows use of the emphatic stop [ḍ] as well as [ẓ] (in loan words from MSA). However, instances of the historic emphatic interdental are rare in the corpus. Despite their rarity, the data may potentially suggest that the current Arabic dialect spoken by the indigenous residents of Gaza City may have the full set of stop counterparts for the interdental fricatives, a common feature of Urban Palestinian Arabic dialects. At the same time this also strengthens Bergsträsser's earliest report of the interdentals in Gaza while further problematizing Salonen's later texts.

Talk delivered at the AIDA meeting in Bucharest in 2015.
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