Gulf Arabic

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Gulf Arabic
Native to Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Iran, UAE, Oman
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 3.6 million)[1]
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 afb
Glottolog gulf1241[2]

Gulf Arabic (خليجي Khalījī local pronunciation: [χɐˈliːdʒi] or اللهجة الخليجية el-lahja el-Khalijiyya local pronunciation: [elˈlɑhdʒɐ lχɐˈliːdʒɪj.jɐ]) is a variety of the Arabic language spoken in Eastern Arabia[3] around the coasts of the Persian Gulf in Kuwait, Iraq,[4] Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran[5] and northern Oman. These dialects are mutually intelligible.[6]

Gulf dialects differ a lot in vocabulary, grammar and accent.[7] There are many big differences between Kuwaiti Arabic and the dialects of Qatar and UAE—especially in vocabulary and accent.[7] Most Saudis do not speak Gulf Arabic because most Saudis do not live in Eastern Arabia.[7] There are only 200,000 Gulf Arabic speakers in Saudi Arabia, mostly in the coastal eastern province.[8][9] Gulf Arabic is distinct from Saudi Arabic.[8][9] Most Saudis speak Hejazi Arabic, Najdi Arabic and Bareqi Arabic dialects.[8][9]

Name[edit]

The dialect's full name el-lahja el-Khalijiyya (اللهجة الخليجية local pronunciation: [elˈlɑhdʒɐ lχɐˈliːdʒɪj.jɐ]) can be translated as 'the dialect of the gulf'. However, it is most commonly referred to as Khaliji (خليجي Khalījī local pronunciation: [χɐˈliːdʒi]), in which the noun خليج (Arabic pronunciation: [χɐˈliːdʒ]; Khalīj) has been suffixed with the Nisba, literally meaning 'of the bay' or 'of the gulf'.[10]

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Gulf Arabic consonants[11]
  Bilabial Labiodental Interdental Dental Alveolar Palato-
alveolar
Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain pharyngealised plain pharyngealised plain pharyngealised
Stops voiced b ()             g      
voiceless (p)1             k q   ʔ
Fricatives voiced       ð ðˤ2       ʁ   ʕ  
voiceless     f θ     ʃ x~χ   ħ h
Affricates voiced                 d͡ʒ~ʒ        
voiceless                 t͡ʃ        
Nasals voiced m ()         n            
Laterals voiced           l3   ɫ3          
Flaps voiced             ɾ~r ɾˤ          
Approximants voiced                 j w      
  • ^1 The non-native Arabic letter Pāʼ (پ), or its native counterpart Bāʼ (ب), is used to denote that sound which occurs only in loanwords, e.g.: piyāḷah (پيالة or بيالة [pijɑːɫɑh], 'small glass'), from Hindi
  • ^2 Ḍad (ض) has merged to Ẓāʼ (ظ). For further information, see below.
  • ^3 The difference is not orthographically shown.


The differences in the phonology of the Arabic dialect group of the Persian Gulf, compared to Modern Standard Arabic, are following:

Letter MSA pronunciation Khaliji varieties Examples Notes
ج /d͡ʒ/ [j] or [d͡ʒ~ʒ] mōy or mōj (موج [moːj] or [moːd͡ʒ], 'wave');
masīd, masyid or masjid (مسجد [mɐˈsiːd], [ˈmɑsjɪd] or [ˈmɐsd͡ʒɪd], "mosque")
Changes are optional, although jim (ج) never changes to [j] in loanwords.[12]
ق /q/ [ɡ], optionally [d͡ʒ~ʒ] when followed by front vowels ([ɐ], [e], [ɪ] or [i]) or following a consonant preceded by a front vowel jiddām or geddām (قدام [d͡ʒɪdˈdɑːm] or [ɡedˈdɑːm], "in front of");
sharji or shargi (شرقي [ˈʃɑɾd͡ʒi] or [ˈʃɑɾɡi], "eastern")
Some classicisms preserve the [q] sound. By Persian influence, sometimes the qaf (ق) changes to ghayn (غ) [ʁ].[13]
غ /ʁ/ [q] qannā (غنى [ˈqɑnnɑ], "to sing") This change is extremely rare.[14]
ك /k/ [t͡ʃ] if preceded or followed by a front vowel or if 2nd person feminine singular suffixed/object pronoun ubūch (أبوك [ʔʊˈbuːt͡ʃ]; 'your (f.sg.) father') This change is optional, but encountered with more often when the kaf (ك) is used to denote the 2nd person feminine singular suffixed/object pronoun.[15]
ض // [ðˤ] ẓāʼ (ضاع [ðˤɑːʕ], 'to lose') Ẓāʼ (ظ) and Ḍad (ض) cannot be distinguished by pronunciation as the Gulf dialects lack the pharyngealised [d].[11]

Vowels[edit]

Following vowel chart applies to the Gulf Arabic dialect continuum:[16]

  Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close i     u
Close-mid       o
Open-mid            
Near-open æ æː        
Open     ä äː ɑ ɑː

Qafisheh stipulates at least two qualities of /a/:

a has a low back quality in the environment of pharyngealized consonants and frequently before or after /q/. This sound is similar to the a sound in father but shorter and farther back. (...) Before or after the pharyngeals 9 [= ʿAyin] and H [= ḥ], or any other plain consonant, a is farther front than the a in father; its quality ranges between the e in pen and the a in pan.

—Hamdi A. Qafisheh, A Short Reference Grammar of Gulf Arabic, p. 16

He further explains that these qualities also apply to /aː/, so that [ɑ(ː)]~[ä(ː)]~[æ(ː)] can be assumed therefor.

Morphology[edit]

Pronouns[edit]

Personal pronouns[edit]

Gulf Arabic has 10 personal pronouns.[17] The conservative dialect has preserved the gender differentiation of the 2nd and 3rd person in the plural forms, whereas dual forms have not survived. The following table bears the generally most common pronouns:

Person Singular Plural
1st ānā (آنَا) niḥin (نِحِنْ)
2nd masculine inta (إِنْتَ) intum (إِنْتُمْ)
feminine inti (إِنْتِ) intin1 (إِنْتِنْ)
3rd masculine huwa (هُوَ) hum (هُمْ)
feminine hiya (هِيَ) hin2 (هِنْ)
  • ^1 Many speakers do not distinguish between masculine and feminine forms in the second person plural, replacing intum and intin with intu (إنْتُ).
  • ^2 Speakers that do not distinguish between masculine and feminine forms in the third person plural will also use hum (هُمْ) for both genders in the third person plural, respectively.

Some pronouns, however, have other (less frequent, resp. local) forms:

  • ānā (آنَا):
    anā (أَنَا)
    āni (آنِي) (especially Baḥrānī)
  • inta (إِنْتَ):
    init (إِنِتْ)
  • huwa (هُوَ):
    (هُوْ)
    huwwa (هُوَّ) (especially Qaṭarī)
    uhu (أُهُو)
  • hiya (هِيَ):
    (هِيْ)
    hiyya (هِيَّ) (especially Qaṭarī)
    ihi (إِهِي)
  • niḥin (نِحِنْ):
    niḥna (نِحْنَ)
    iḥna (إِحْنَا) (especially Baḥrānī and Qatarī)
  • intum (إِنْتُمْ):
    intu (إنْتُ)[Note 1]
  • hum (هُمْ):
    humma (هُمَّ) (especially Qatarī)
    uhum (أُهُمْ)
  1. ^ For a more detailed info, look at the table above.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gulf Arabic at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Gulf Arabic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ "Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary". Clive Holes. 2001. p. XVI-XVII. 
  4. ^ Arabic, Gulf Spoken - A Language of Iraq Ethnologue
  5. ^ Languages of Iran Ethnologue
  6. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Introduction". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. xvii. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  7. ^ a b c "Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary". Clive Holes. 2001. 
  8. ^ a b c "International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Volume 1". William Frawley. 2003. p. 38. 
  9. ^ a b c Languages of Saudi Arabia Ethnologue
  10. ^ Smith, Arabic-English by N. Awde; English-Arabic by N. Awde & K. (2003). Arabic dictionary. London: Bennett & Bloom. p. 88. ISBN 1-898948-20-8. 
  11. ^ a b McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Diagram I". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  12. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Appendix I". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 263. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  13. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Appendix II". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 265. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  14. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Appendix II". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 266. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  15. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Appendix III". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 267. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  16. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Diagramm II". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 
  17. ^ McCarus, Hamdi A. Qafisheh ; in consultation with Ernest N. (1977). "Pronouns". A short reference grammar of Gulf Arabic. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press. p. 159. ISBN 0-8165-0570-5. 

See also[edit]