Bedouin Arabic

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Bedouin Arabic
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Bedouin Arabic[1] refers to a typological group of Arabic dialects historically linked to Bedouin tribes, that has spread among both nomadic and sedentary groups across the Arab World. The group of dialects originate from Arabian tribes in Najd and the Hejaz that have spread since the 10th century until modern day. Bedouin dialects vary by region and tribe, but they typically share a set of features which distinguish them from sedentary-type dialects in each region.

The term can be ambiguous, as it can refer to dialects of nomadic Bedouins, dialects of Bedouin-descended populations, or sedentary dialects that have been influenced by Bedouin dialects.


The similarities between Bedouin dialects are due to their historical contact with one another, due to rapid population movements that quickly erase linguistic diversity.[2]


  • Voiced pronunciation of Qāf, in contrast to voiceless pronunciations, such as /q/ in many sedentary dialects, or /ʔ/ in Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic, and the Maltese language. This is the only innovation that can be said to unite all Bedouin dialects.[3][2] In most cases, this voiced pronunciation is a Voiced velar plosive, but it is sometimes affricated in some Eastern Bedouin dialects to /d͡z/ in Najd, or to /d͡ʒ/ in Eastern Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Shawi dialects.
  • Preserving interdental consonants Ṯāʾ /θ/, Ḏāl /ð/, and Ẓāʾ /ðˤ/. Like in most other dialects, Ḍād and Ẓāʾ have merged, so Ḍād is also pronounced as /ðˤ/. Many sedentary dialects preserve them as well, while many pronounce them as /t/, /d/, and /dˤ/, respectively. In some sedentary dialects in Egypt and the Levant, interdental consonants in loans from Standard Arabic are often pronounced as /s/, /z/, and /zˤ/.
  • Preserving nunation as suffix -in, for example: bintin zēnah.
  • Distinguishing masculine and feminine plural pronouns -hum and -hun.
  • Internal passive verb forms, such as kutib (passive voice of katab). In sedentary dialects, prefixes such as in- (inkatab) and it- (itkatab) are used.

Eastern Bedouin features[edit]


Eastern dialects:

Western dialects:

See also[edit]

  • Bedouin, a predominantly desert-dwelling Arabian ethnic group
  • Varieties of Arabic, regional and other varieties of the Arabic language


  1. ^ Weninger, Stefan, ed. (21 December 2011). The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook. doi:10.1515/9783110251586. ISBN 978-3-11-018613-0.
  2. ^ a b Magidow, Alexander (December 2021). "The Old and the New: Considerations in Arabic Historical Dialectology". Languages. 6 (4): 163. doi:10.3390/languages6040163. ISSN 2226-471X.
  3. ^ Palva, Heikki (2011-05-30), "Dialects: Classification", Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Brill, doi:10.1163/1570-6699_eall_eall_com_0087, retrieved 2023-01-01
  4. ^ Younes, Igor; Herin, Bruno (2016-01-01). "Šāwi Arabic". Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics Online Edition.
  5. ^ Webster, Roger (1991). "Notes on the Dialect and Way of Life of the Āl Wahība Bedouin of Oman". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 54 (3): 473–485. ISSN 0041-977X.
  6. ^ Manfredi, Stefano; Roset, Caroline (September 2021). "Towards a Dialect History of the Baggara Belt". Languages. 6 (3): 146. doi:10.3390/languages6030146. hdl:11245.1/9d3da5f3-7f63-4424-a557-8ce609adb526. ISSN 2226-471X.