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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The efficiency of dropping vowels in Romanised Arabic script


When Arabic speakers write in their dialect, they have the choice of using either the standard Arabic script or the non-standard Roman script. Arabizi writing is a new emerging writing system that Arabic speakers use to type their dialects utilizing Roman characters. Although Arabizi is not standardized, people have developed an efficient way to communicate through it. One phenomenon that emerged with this new system is vowel dropping. In this paper, we approach this phenomenon from the perspective of communicative efficiency. We study the informativity of short and long spellings of words and investigate whether the predictability of the word in certain contexts impacts whether the vowel is dropped in that word.

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