International Journal of Speech Technology

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 907–913 | Cite as

Revisiting distinctive phonetic features from applied computing perspective: unifying views and analyzing modern Arabic speech varieties

  • Yasser Seddiq
  • Yousef Alotaibi
  • Ali Meftah
  • Sid-Ahmed Selouani
  • Mansour Alghamdi


Distinctive phonetic features (DPFs) provide the description of phonemes’ places and manners of articulation. Several, sometimes contradictory, views and definitions of the DPF elements of Modern Standard Arabic have been proposed in the phonology literature. This contrast in views is a significant barrier against utilizing the advantages of DPFs in digital speech processing applications because computer systems do not deliver correct results under vague rules and models. This is a review paper that presents background on Arabic DPFs and in addition to highlighting the historical and geographical verities. It also addresses the problem of ambiguous definitions between classical and modern phonology that may introduce significant challenge to computer scientists and engineers when developing computer systems. Another contribution of this work is to investigate the deviations in phonemes and DPF elements across dialects of Arabic. This is important to provide engineers with better understanding when designing computer software targeting a wide spectrum of Arabic speaking users.


Distinctive phonetic feature Modern Standard Arabic Digital speech processing Speech corpora Arabic dialects 



This project was funded by the National Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation (MAARIFAH), King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Award Number (11-INF1968-02).


  1. AbdutTawaab, R. (1997). Almadkhalu Ela Elmil Lughati wa Manahijul Bahthil Lughawi. Cairo: Alkhanji Library.Google Scholar
  2. Abu Shamah, A. I. I. (1992). Abrazul Maani Min Hirzil Amaani. Almadinah: Islamic University Publications.Google Scholar
  3. AbuHassan, T. (1990). Manahijul Bahthi Fil Lughah. Cairo: Anglo Library.Google Scholar
  4. Abulfath, U. I. J. (1993). Sirru Sinaa’atil Eeraab (2nd ed.). Damascus: Darulqalam.Google Scholar
  5. Alanbari, A. A. (1999). Asraarul Arabiyah (1st ed.). Beirut: Darul Arqam.Google Scholar
  6. Al-Ani, S. H. (1970). Arabic phonology (1st ed.). Hague: Mouton Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alfarahidi, A. I. A. (2003). Alayn (1st ed.). Beirut: Darul kutubil Elmiyah.Google Scholar
  8. Alghamdi, M. (2000). Arabic phonology (1st ed.). Riyadh: Tawbah Publisher.Google Scholar
  9. Alghamdi, M. (2003) KACST Arabic phonetic database. In: The 15th International Congress of Phonetics Science, Barcelona, Spain (pp. 3109–3112). Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
  10. Alghamdi, M. (2015). Arabic phonetics and phonology (1st ed.). Riyadh: Tawbah Publisher.Google Scholar
  11. Alghamdi, M., Alhargan, F., Alkanhal, M., Alkhairy, A., Eldesouki, M., & Alenazi, A. (2008). Saudi accented Arabic voice bank. Journal of King Saud University, 20, 45–64.Google Scholar
  12. Alkhafaaji, I. (1982). Sirrul Fasahah (1st ed.). Beirut: Darul kutubil Elmiyah.Google Scholar
  13. Alkhouli, M. (1990). Linguistic phonetics (1st ed.). Swaileh: Daar Alfalah.Google Scholar
  14. Alotaibi, Y., & Meftah, A. (2013). Review of distinctive phonetic features and the Arabic share in related modern research. Turkish Journal of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, 2, 426–1439.Google Scholar
  15. Anees, I. (2013). Alaswaatul Laghawiyah. Cairo: Anglo Library.Google Scholar
  16. Ashatibi, A. M. A. (2014). Manzhumatu Hirzil Amaani wa Wajut Tahani Fil Qira’aatis Sab’a. Damascus: Daru Nouril Maktabaat.Google Scholar
  17. Assa’aran, M. (1997). Elmul Lughah. Cairo: Darul Fikikr Alalrabi.Google Scholar
  18. Assakhaawi, A. (2002). Fat’hulWasid Fi SharhilQasid. Riyadh: Arrushd.Google Scholar
  19. Azzajjaji, A. I. I. (1984). Aljumalu Finnahu (1st ed.). Beirut: Arrisalah Est.Google Scholar
  20. BBN Technologies (with American University of Beirut a subcontractor), et al. (2005). BBN/AUB DARPA Babylon Levantine Arabic Speech and Transcripts LDC2005S08 (1st ed.). Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium.Google Scholar
  21. Benmamoun, E., & Bassiouney, R. (2017). The Routledge handbook of Arabic linguistics (1st ed.). New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Biadsy, F., Hirschberg, J., & Habash, N. (2009). Spoken Arabic dialect identification using phonotactic modeling. In The 2009 Workshop on Computational Approaches to Semitic Languages, Athens, Greece (pp. 53–61). Stroudsburg: ACL.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Bishr, K. (2000). Elmul Aswaat. Cairo: Darul Ghareeb.Google Scholar
  24. Chomsky, N., & Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English (1st ed.). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Deller, J., Proakis, J., & Hansen, J. H. (1993). Discrete-time processing of speech signal. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  26. Droua-Hamdani, G., Selouani, S. A., & Boudraa, M. (2010). Algerian Arabic speech database (ALGASD): Corpus design and automatic. The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering, 35(2C), 157–166.Google Scholar
  27. Eide, E. (2001). Distinctive features for use in an automatic speech recognition system. In 7th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology, Aalborg, Denmark (pp. 1613–1616). Baixas: ISCA.Google Scholar
  28. El-Imam, Y. A. (1989). An unrestricted vocabulary Arabic speech synthesis system. IEEE Transactions on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing, 37, 1829–1845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Garofolo, J. S., et al. (1993). TIMIT acoustic-phonetic continuous speech corpus LDC93S1 (1st ed.). Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium.Google Scholar
  30. Huda, M. N., Muhammad, G., & Nitta, T. (2006). DPF-based phonetic segmentation using recurrent neural networks. In Autumn meeting of ASJ, 19–21, Yahata Higashi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan (pp. 3–4). Tokyo: ASJ.Google Scholar
  31. IbnulJazary, M. I. M. (1998). Annashr Fil Qiraatil Ashr (1st ed.). Beirut: Darul Kutubil Elmiyah.Google Scholar
  32. IbnuSsarraaj, A. I. S. (1988). Al’Osoulu Finnahw (3rd ed.). Birout: Arrisalah Est.Google Scholar
  33. International Phonetic Association. (1999). Handbook of the international phonetic association: A guide to the use of the international phonetic alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Jakobson, R., Fant, G. M., & Halle, M. (1963). Preliminaries to speech analysis: The distinctive features and their correlates (1st ed.). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. LaRocca, S., & Chouairi, R. (2002). West point Arabic speech LDC2002S02 (1st ed.). Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium.Google Scholar
  36. Maamouri, M., Buckwalter, T., & Cieri, C. (2004). Dialectal Arabic telephone speech corpus: Principles, tool design, and transcription conventions. In NEMLAR International Conference on Arabic Language Resources and Tools, Cairo, Egypt (pp. 1–6). Paris: ELRA.Google Scholar
  37. Mukhtaar, A. (1997). Dirasatus Sawtil Lughawi. Cairo: Aalmul Kutub.Google Scholar
  38. Sībawayh, A. I. U. (1988). Alkitaab (3rd ed.). Cairo: Alkhanji Library.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)RiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.College of Computer and Information SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.LARIHS Lab. Université de MonctonShippaganCanada

Personalised recommendations