Investigating variation in Arabic intonation

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This paper provides a first description of the intonational patterns of San‘aani Arabic (sa, the dialect of Arabic spoken in the capital of Yemen) and a comparison of these patterns with those observed in Cairene Arabic (ca), revealing differences between the two varieties which mirror cross-linguistic prosodic variation. The sa analysis is based on qualitative transcription of portions of a multi-level corpus, including read speech sentences, a narrative retold from memory and a sociolinguistic data collection tool which yields free conversation data in the desired variety as well as information that can be used to confirm which variety is being used. The corpus design and methodology serve as a prototype for larger data collection to document intonational variation in Arabic.


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