In some cases it is difficult to explain synchronic phonological variation, especially when multi-level/variety languages are involved, by reference to pure phonetic environments or social and stylistic contexts alone. It is proposed in this paper that the lexical conditioning hypothesis may offer a solution to these cases. It is assumed under this hypothesis that the occurrence of one phonetic variant or another is often predicted from the nature of the lexical item containing it, provided that all other variables are kept constant. Through an empirical analysis of some phonological variables in spoken Arabic, we have shown that there is some correlation between the status of the lexical item and its phonetic realization. The analysis also lends support to a number of principles of language change and variation assumed under the lexical hypothesis.
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