Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Vance K. Schaefer

Second Advisor

Felice Coles

Third Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Relational Format



Although Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) has three different interdental fricatives /θ/, /ð/, and the emphatic interdental /ðˤ/, most Egyptian Arabic (EA) speakers do not pronounce these interdental fricative sounds, whether in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or in English, and instead substitute them with the sibilant /s/ and /z/, respectively (Schmidt, 1987), as in the examples ‘three’ and ‘the’. The factors which influence the pronunciation of interdentals by EA speakers vary from one study to another. For instance, Ahmed Ali (2014) and El Zarka (2013) refer to dialect interference in the second language acquisition of phonology, while other studies indicate some sociolinguistic variables such as a socioeconomic background variable (Labov, 1970) or a stylistic variable (Schmidt, 1987) as influencing the EA speakers’ pronunciation of interdental fricatives. This study examines the interdentals of 15-20 EA speakers through an interview and several tasks, including reading samples, in order to determine which variables (e.g., phonological, sociolinguistic, stylistic) are the most salient in the acquisition of interdentals in MSA and L2 English. In addition, this study tests several new variables (the effect of pronunciation teaching, and formality of the topic) that may influence the EA speakers’ pronunciation of interdentals. Through analysis of the collected data, this study demonstrates that the pronunciation of interdentals by EA speakers is in fact due to a combination of these factors.



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