Arabic chat alphabet

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The Arabic chat alphabet, also known as Arabish, Araby (Arabic: عربي, ʿArabī), Arabizi[1] (عربيزي, ʿArabīzī), Mu'arrab (معرب, Muʿarrab), and Franco-Arabic,[2] is an alphabet used to communicate in Arabic over the Internet or for sending messages via cellular phones. It is a character encoding of Arabic to the Latin script and the Arabic numerals. It differs from more formal and academic Arabic transliteration systems, as it avoids diacritics by freely using digits and multigraphs for letters that do not exist in the basic Latin script (ASCII).[3]

Arabic chat alphabet is used to communicate in the Arabic language over the Internet or for sending messages via cellular phones when the Arabic alphabet is unavailable or difficult to use for technical reasons.[4] Arabish is most commonly used by youth in the Arab world in very informal settings, for example communicating with friends or other youths.[3]

Because of its widespread use, such as in many public advertisements by large multinationals, large players in the online industry like Google and Microsoft have introduced tools that convert text written in Arabish to Arabic. Add-ons for Mozilla Firefox and Chrome also exist. The Arabic chat alphabet (ACA) is never used in formal settings and is rarely, if ever, used for long communications.[4]


During the last decades of the 20th century, Western text communication technologies became increasingly prevalent in the Arab world, such as mobile phone text messaging, the internet World Wide Web, email, bulletin board systems, IRC, instant messaging. Most of these technologies originally had the ability to communicate using Latin script only, and some of them still do not have the Arabic alphabet as an optional feature. As a result, Arabic speaking users communicated in these technologies by transliterating the Arabic text into Latin script.

To handle those Arabic letters that do not have an approximate phonetic equivalent in the Latin script, numerals and other characters were appropriated. For example, the numeral "3" is used to represent the Arabic letter ⟨ع⟩ (ʿayn), note the usage of the mirroring technique to create a visual similarity between the Arabic letter and its numeral substitution. Many users of mobile phones and computers use Arabish even when their system supports the Arabic script because they do not always have Arabic keyboards, or because they are more familiar with the QWERTY keyboard layout for typing.

Online communications, such as IRC, bulletin board systems, and blogs, are often run on systems or over protocols which don't support codepages or alternate character sets. This system has gained common use and can be seen even in domain names such as Qal3ah.

Comparison table[edit]

Because of the informal nature of this system, there is no single "correct" way, so some character usage overlaps.

Most of the characters in the system make use of the roman character (as used in English and French) that best approximates phonetically the Arabic letter that one wants to express (for example, ب corresponds to b). This may sometimes vary due to regional variations in the pronunciation of the Arabic letter (e.g. might be transliterated as j in the Levantine dialect, or as g in the Egyptian dialect).

Those letters that do not have a close phonetic approximate in the Latin script are often expressed using numerals or other characters, so that the numeral graphically approximate the Arabic letter that one wants to express (e.g. ع is represented using the numeral 3 because the latter looks like a horizontal reflection of the former).

Since many letters are distinguished from others solely by a dot above or below the main character, the conversions frequently used the same letter or number with an apostrophe added before or after (e.g. '3 is used to represent غ).

Letters Arabic chat alphabet IPA
ء أ ؤ إ ئ آ‎ 2 ʔ
ا a e è [1] æ(ː) a(ː) ɑ(ː) ɛ(ː) ɐ
ب b p b p
ت t t t͡s
ث s th s θ
ج j dj g ʒ d͡ʒ ɟ ɟ͡ʝ ɡ
ح 7 ħ ʜ
خ kh 7' 5 x χ
د d d
ذ z th dh z ð
ر r ɾ r
ز z z
س s s
ش sh ch [1] ʃ
ص s 9
ض d dh 9' d̪ˤ d̪ˠ
ط t 6 t̪ˤ t̪ˠ
ظ z th dh 6' ðˤ ðˠ
ع 3 ʕ ʢ
غ gh 3' ɣ ʁ
ف f v f v
ق 2 g 8 9 q ʔ ɡ ɢ q
ك k g k ɡ
ل l l ɫ
م m m
ن n n
ه h a e ah eh é [1] h, /a e/
ة a e eh at et é [1] /a e at et/
و w o ou oo u w o(ː) u(ː)
ي ى‎ [2] y i ee ei ai a é [1] j i(ː) e(ː), /a/
Additional letters Arabic chat alphabet IPA
پ p p
چ [3] j tsh ch tch ʒ t͡ʃ
ڜ [4] ch tch t͡ʃ
ڤ ڥ [5] v v
ڨ گ ݣ [5] g ɡ
^1 é, è, ch, dj are likely to be used at regions where French language is the primary foreign language used. dj is especially used in Algerian Arabic.
^2 Mainly in the Nile Valley, the final form is always ى (without dots), representing both final /i/ and /a/. It is the more traditional way of spelling the letter for both cases.
^3 In Iraq and sometimes Persian Gulf, it may be used to transcribe /t͡ʃ/, but most often transcribed as تش, while in Egypt it is used for transcribing /ʒ/ (which can be a reduction of /d͡ʒ/).
^4 Only used in Morocco to transliterate Spanish /t͡ʃ/.
^5 Depending on the region, different letters may be used for the same phoneme.


Egyptian Arabic[edit]

Egyptian Arabic انا رايح الجامعه الساعه 3 العصر الجو عامل ايه النهارده فى إسكندرية؟
Araby transcription ana raye7 el gam3a el sa3a 3 el 3asr. el gaw 3amel eh elnaharda f eskendereya?
IPA [ʔænæˈrɑˑjeħ elˈɡæmʕæ (ʔe)sˈsæˑʕæ tæˈlæˑtæ lˈʕɑsˤɾ] [elˈɡæwwe ˈʕæˑmel ˈe(ˑhe)nnɑˈhɑɾdɑ feskendeˈɾejjæ]
English I'm going to college at 3pm. How is the weather today in Alexandria?

North Levantine Arabic[edit]

North Levantine Arabic كيف صحتك، شو عمتعمل؟
Araby transcription kif/keef sa7tak, chou/shu 3am ta3mil?
ALA-LC kīf ṣaḥtak, shū ʻam taʻmil?
IPA [kiːf ˈsˤɑħtak ʃuː ʕam ˈtaʕmɪl]
English How is your health, what are you doing?

Maghrebian Arabic[edit]

Moroccan Arabic كيف داير في القراية؟
Araby transcription kif dayer fi l9rya?
English How are you doing with your studies?

Gulf Arabic[edit]

Gulf Arabic كيفك؟ وش بتسوي اليوم؟
Araby transcription kaifk? wsh btswi el youm?
English How are you? What are you going to do today?

Iraqi Arabic[edit]

  • As with all Arabic dialects, every geographical area has a slightly different dialect.
Iraqi Arabic يابه شلونك؟ شدتسوي مادتسوي اليوم؟
Araby transcription yaba shlonak? shdassowee ma dassowee ilyom?
English How are you, man? What are you up to today?

Sudanese Arabic[edit]

  • This is the form of Colloquial Arabic spoken in Sudan.
Sudanese Arabic ولاي مشتاق ليك شديد يا زول كيفك إنتا؟ انا الحمدلله اكنت داير امشي المحل داك فوق النيل، المكان قريب من بيتك. حاستناك في الكبري.
Araby transcription wallay moshtag leakk shadid ya zol kefak inta? ana alhamdolillah konta dayir amshi le al ma7al dak fog al nil, al makan garib men betak. 7astanak fi al kubri.
English Oh, God, I missed you a lot, man! How are you? Thank God. So I want to go to that one place over the Nile, the place near your very house! I'll wait for you at the bridge.

Chadian Arabic[edit]

Chadian Arabic بوه ياخي، إتَ عفة؟ ولله سمح انا ماشي للسوبرمارشة ديك بي وسط نجامينا لو تدور تمشي يعني، تعال معاي يلا ياخي
Araby transcription boh yakhi, inta afé? . wallah semeh, ana maché lê supermarché dik bi ousut n'djamena lô tidoura tamshi yani, ta'al maa'ai yalla yakhi
English Oh, hey, my brother. How are you? Good. I am going to that supermarket, so if you want to come, hurry and come with me, my brother!

Other dialects[edit]

The chat alphabet is also used in Modern Standard Arabic when Arabic speakers of different dialects communicate each other.


Conservative Muslims, as well as Pan-Arabists and some Arab-nationalists, view Arabish as a detrimental form of Westernization. Arabish emerged amid a growing trend among Arab youth, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, to incorporate English into Arabic as a form of slang. Arabish is used to replace Arabic script, and this raises concerns regarding the preservation of the quality of the language.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ghanem, Renad (20 April 2011). "‘Arabizi is destroying the Arabic language’". Arab News. 
  2. ^ a b Al-Fawaz, Nadia (26 December 2014). "Purists alarmed at increasing popularity of Franco-Arabic". Arab News. 
  3. ^ a b Palfreyman, David; Muhamed, Al Khalil (2007). ""A Funky Language for Teenz to Use": Representing Gulf Arabic in Instant Messaging". In Danet, Brenda; Herring, Susan C. The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online. Oxford University Press. pp. 43–64. 
  4. ^ a b Yaghan, M. (2008). "Araby: A Contemporary Style of Arabic Slang". Design Issues 24(2): 39-52.

External links[edit]

  • clavier arabe:allowing you to type Arabic in Roman characters and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script
  • Google Transliteration IME
  • arabic keyboard:It's a Tool to get a free Arabic keyboard that aims to give users a service to write words and sentences in Arabic in a more readable proffessonal and easy.
  • Syriac Latin Alphabet: A Semitic Latin alphabet which also additionally utilizes Arabic numerals