Bahrani Arabic

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Bahrani Arabic
العربية البحرانية
Native toBahrain, Oman, Qatif, Al Ahsa
Speakers730,000 (2019)[1]
Arabic alphabet, Arabic chat alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3abv
Árabe bareiní.png

Bahrani Arabic (also known as Bahrani and Baharna Arabic) is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Baharna in Eastern Arabia and Oman.[2] In Bahrain, the dialect is primarily spoken in Shia villages and some parts of Manama. In Saudi Arabia, the dialect is spoken in the governorate of Qatif.

The Bahrani Arabic dialect has been significantly influenced by the ancient Aramaic, Syriac, and Akkadian languages.[3][4]

An interesting sociolinguistic feature of Bahrain is the existence of two main dialects: Bahrani and Sunni Arabic.[5] Sunni Bahrainis speak a dialect which is most similar to urban dialect spoken in Qatar.

The Persian language has the most foreign linguistic influence on all the Bahraini dialects.[6] The differences between Bahrani Arabic and other Bahraini dialects suggest differing historical origins. The main differences between Bahrani and non-Bahrani dialects are evident in certain grammatical forms and pronunciation. Most of the vocabulary, however, is shared between dialects, or is distinctly Bahraini, arising from a shared modern history. Many Bahrani words have also been borrowed from Urdu, Ottoman Turkish, or English.

Examples of words borrowed from other languages[edit]

Bahrani dialect has borrowed some vocabulary from Persian, Urdu, Ottoman Turkish, and more recently from English.


Holes divides the sedentary dialects of the Gulf to two types:

  1. Type A, which includes the dialects of Sunni tribes that settled in Eastern Arabia between the 17th and 19th century, and the Huwala. This group includes the standard Gulf Arabic dialects of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and UAE.
  2. Type B, which includes the dialects of Omani Ibadis and Eastern Arabian Shia (the Baharna).

Bahrani Arabic (called Baħrāni by its speakers) shares many features with surrounding Type A dialects (e.g. Kuwait, UAE, Qatar). Some general features:

  • Classical Arabic /q/ becomes /g/, for example gamar (moon).
  • Classical Arabic /ð/ becomes /d/, for example danab (tail).
  • /q/ and /ð/ is preserved for some Classical Arabic borrowings, for example [ðulqaʕdah] (Dhu Al-Qa'dah).
  • Affrication of /k/ to /tʃ/ in many words, for example [tʃalb] (dog).
  • /θ/ has the free variant /f/, and in some dialects /t/, for example falāfeh or talāteh (three).
  • /dʒ/ becomes /j/ in some rural dialects, for example yiħħe (watermelon).
  • Usage of -sh suffix (/ʃ/) as a feminine second-person pronoun akin to masculine -k, for example babish (your door).
  • Usage of sentence-final particle e (pronounced [ɛː]) to indicate questions, for example 'inzaine (OK?).


Bahrani Arabic consonants[7]
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless t k q ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ħ h
voiced ð z ɣ ʕ
Trill r
Approximant l j w

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bahrani Arabic at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  2. ^ "Arabic, Baharna Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  3. ^ Jastrow, Otto (2002). Non-Arabic Semitic elements in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia. Clive Holes. pp. 270–279. ISBN 9783447044912.
  4. ^ Holes, Clive (2001). Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary. Clive Holes. pp. XXIX–XXX. ISBN 9004107630.
  5. ^ Bassiouney, Reem (2009). "5". Arabic Sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 105–107.
  6. ^ Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary. Clive Holes. 2001. Page XXX. ISBN 90-04-10763-0
  7. ^ Al-Tajir, Mahdi Abdalla (1982). Language and linguistic origins in Baḥrain : the Baḥārnah dialect of Arabic. London: K. Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0024-7.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]