The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that American L2 learners of Arabic find consonant clusters of Arabic that are not permissible in their native language difficult to pronounce. The interlanguages of six adult native speakers of American English learning Arabic as a second language is investigated. Subjects are asked to read sentences containing words ending with consonant clusters. Subjects' performance on clusters permissible in Arabic and English and clusters non-permissible in English is compared. The difference between subjects' performance on clusters permissible in Arabic and English and clusters permissible in English only is found to be significant, a finding which confirms the hypothesis. Simplification strategies used by subjects when producing the difficult clusters are: (1) modification of syllable structure via schwa epenthesis between the two consonants of the cluster (in the case of clusters ending with /m n 1), (2) inserting a vowel at the end of the word (in the case of clusters ending with /w y/), (3) producing the final consonant as a syllabic consonant (in the case of clusters ending with Im n 1). Substitution of one of the cluster constituents also occur ( /u i/ for /w y/ ). These strategies are found to be due to Ll transfer processes, developmental processes, or universal processes. Other simplification strategies, such as schwa epenthesis and final-obstruent devoicing, also occur in subjects'

production of clusters permissible in their native languages. This provides evidence for the existence of developmental processes in the subjects' interlanguages regardless of Ll transfer. In light of the findings of the study, a number of pronunciation teaching practices are proposed to deal with the problem of consonant clusters in class. These procedures range from dependent practice (imitative speech practice) to guided practice (rehearsed speech practice using fixed texts) and independent practice ( extemporaneous speech practice in partially planned or unplanned talks and panel discussion). A blend of the three types of practice is recommended.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


Document Type



111 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Arabic language

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Arabic language


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Call Number

Thesis 1997/38