Hejazi Arabic

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Hejazi Arabic
حجازي Ḥijāzi
Pronunciation /ħi'd͡ʒaːzi/
Native to Hejaz region, Saudi Arabia
Native speakers
6 million (1996)[1]
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 acw
Glottolog hija1235[2]
Distribution of Hejazi Arabic in Saudi Arabia.png
  regions where Hejazi is the language of the majority
  regions considered as part of modern Hejaz region
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Hejazi Arabic or Hijazi Arabic (Arabic: حجازي‎‎ ḥijāzī), also known as West Arabian Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken in the Hejaz region in Saudi Arabia. Although, strictly speaking, there are two main groups of dialects spoken in the Hejaz region,[3] one by the urban population who consist the majority, and another by the bedouin rural population. The term most often applies to the urban variety, spoken in the major cities such as Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Ta'if, and Yanbu.


Urban Hejazi Arabic belongs to the western Peninsular Arabic branch of the Arabic language, which itself is a Semitic language. It includes features of both urban and bedouin dialects giving its history between the ancient urban cities of Medina and Mecca and the bedouin tribes that lived on the outskirts of these cities. The main phonological characteristic features that differentiate Urban Hejazi from the neighbouring Najdi ِdialect and other bedouin dialects in the Arabian peninsula is the absence of vowel reduction, the classical pronunciation of the letter ⟨ض⟩, the distinction between it and ⟨ظ⟩, and the pronunciation of the letters ⟨ث⟩, ⟨ذ⟩, and ⟨ظ⟩.


Also referred to as the sedentary Hejazi dialect, this is the form most commonly associated with the term "Hejazi Arabic", and is spoken in the urban centers of the region, such as Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina. With respect to the axis of bedouin versus sedentary dialects of the Arabic language, this dialect group exhibits features of both. Like other sedentary dialects, the urban Hejazi dialect is less conservative than the bedouin varieties and has therefore shed some Classical forms and features that are still present in bedouin dialects. These include the internal passive form (which in Hejazi, is replaced by the pattern (أنفعل /anfaʕal/, ينفعل /jinfaʕil/), the marker for indefiniteness (tanwin), gender-number disagreement, and the feminine marker -n (see Varieties of Arabic).

Sedentary features[edit]

  1. The present progressive tense is marked by the prefix بـ /bi/ or قاعد /gaːʕid/ as in بيدرس /bijidrus/ or قاعد يدرس /gaːʕid jidrus/ ("he is studying").
  2. In contrast to bedouin dialects, the distinction between the emphatic sounds /dˤ/ ض and /zˤ/ ظ is generally preserved in a number of words.
  3. The final -n in present tense plural verb forms is no longer employed (e.g. يركبوا /jirkabu/ instead of يركبون /jarkəbuːn/).
  4. The dominant case ending before the 3rd person masculine singular pronoun is -u, rather than the -a that is prevalent in bedouin dialects. For example, بيته /beːtu/ ("his house"), عنده /ʕindu/ ("he has"), أعرفه /aʕrifu/ ("I know him").

Conservative features[edit]

  1. Hejazi Arabic does not employ double negation, nor does it append the negation particles -sh to negate verbs: Hejazi ما اعرف /maː aʕrif/ ("I don't know"), as opposed to Egyptian معرفش /maʕrafʃ/ and Palestinian بعرفش /baʕrafiʃ/.
  2. The prohibitive mood of Classical Arabic is preserved in the imperative: لا تروح /laː tiruːħ/ ("don't go").
  3. The possessive suffixes are generally preserved in their Classical forms. For example, بيتكم /beːtakum/ "your (pl) house".
  4. The plural first person pronoun is نحنا /niħna/ or إحنا /iħna/, as opposed to the bedouin حنّا /ħənna/ or إنّا /ənna/.
  5. When used to indicate location, the preposition في /fi/ is preferred to بـ /b/. In bedouin dialects, the preference differs by region.
  6. Less restriction on the distribution of /i/ and /u/.
  7. The glottal stop can be added to final syllables ending in a vowel as a way of emphasising.
  8. Compared to neighboring dialects, urban Hejazi retains more of the short vowels of Modern Standard Arabic, for example:
سمكة /samaka/ ("fish"), as opposed to bedouin /smika/.
ضربَته /dˤarabatu/ ("she hit him"), as opposed to bedouin /ðˤrabətah/.
أكتب /aktub/ ("write"), Imperative mood, as opposed to bedouin /iktib/.
عندَكُم /ʕindakum/ ("in your possession" pl.), as opposed to bedouin /ʕandkum/, Egyptian /ʕanduku/, and Levantine /ʕandkun/.


Urban Hejazi Arabic has approximately 26 to 28 consonant phonemes of which two (/θ, ð/) are partially used by a number of speakers, and 8 vowel phonemes /a, u, i, aː, uː, iː, oː, eː/.[4][5] Consonant length and Vowel length are both distinctive in Hejazi. The phonemes /p/ ⟨پ⟩ and /v/ ⟨ڤ⟩ (not used by all speakers) are not considered to be part of the phonemic inventory, as they exist only in foreign words and they can be pronounced as /b/ ⟨ب⟩ and /f/ ⟨ف⟩ respectively depending on the speaker.

  • phonemes will be (written inside slashes / /) and allophones (written inside brackets [ ]).


Consonant phonemes of Urban Hejazi Arabic
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar
Pharyngeal Glottal
 plain  emphatic
Nasal m n
Plosive &
voiceless t k ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f (θ) s ʃ x ħ h
voiced (ð) z ɣ ʕ
Trill r
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

Phonetic notes:

  • the classicized [q] is an allophone for /g/ 〈ق〉 in few words and proper names as in القرآن [alqur'ʔaːn] ('Quran') and القاهرة [al'qaːhira] ('Cairo').[6]
  • the marginal phoneme /ɫ/ only occurs in the word الله /aɫɫaːh/ ('god') and words derived from it,[7] it contrasts with /l/ in والله /waɫɫa/ ('i swear') vs. ولَّا /walla/ ('or').
  • the phonemes /d͡ʒ/ 〈ج〉 and the trill /r/ 〈ر〉 are realised as a [ʒ] and a tap [ɾ] respectively by a number of speakers.
  • the phonemes /ɣ/ 〈غ〉 and /x/ 〈خ〉 can be realised as uvular fricatives [ʁ] and [χ] respectively.
  • the reintroduced phoneme /θ/ 〈ث〉 is partially used as an alternative phoneme by a number of speakers, while most speakers merge it with /t/ or /s/ depending on the word.
  • the reintroduced phoneme /ð/ 〈ذ〉 is partially used as an alternative phoneme by a number of speakers, while most speakers merge it with /d/ or /z/ depending on the word.
  • the classicized [ðˤ] is an optional allophone for 〈ظ〉. In general, urban Hejazi speakers pronounce it as /zˤ/ or merge it with /dˤ/ depending on the word.


Hejazi has eight vowel phonemes;[8][9] three short /a/, /u/, /i/ and five long /aː/, /uː/, /iː/, /oː/ and /eː/ with length as a distinctive feature, and two diphthongs حروف اللين /aw/ and /aj/. Unlike other Arabic dialects, Hejazi did not develop allophones for the vowels /a/ and /aː/, except in a few number of foreign words where the long /aː/ is optionally pronounced [ɑː], and retains most of the long and short vowels of Classical Arabic with no vowel reduction.The pronunciation of /u/ and /i/ depends on the nature of the surrounding consonants, whether the syllable is stressed or unstressed, and on the accent of the speaker. As a general rule, word initial and medial /u/ is pronounced [u] when unstressed and [o̞] when stressed, but strictly as an [u] before /w/ and at the end of the word, and /i/ is pronounced as an unstressed [i] and stressed [e̞], and strictly as an [i] before /j/ and at the end of the word, though this variation is not found in all of the accents of Hejazi. Most of the two diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ from the classical period underwent monophthongization and are realised as the long vowels /eː/ and /oː/ respectively, but they still occur as diphthongs in a number of words as in حَيْوان /ħajwaːn/ ('animal') and even contrast with the long vowels as in دَوْري /dawri/ ('league') vs. دوري /dri/ ('my turn') vs. /dri/ ('turn around!'). All word-final long vowels /aː/, /uː/ and /iː/ are shortened except in two-letter words.

The vowel phonemes of Hejazi Arabic from Eman M. Abdoh (2010:84). short [o̞] and [e̞] only occur allophonically.
Vowel phonemes of Hejazi Arabic
Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close i u
Open a

Phonetic notes:

  • /a/ and /aː/ are pronounced either as an open front vowel [a] or an open central vowel [ä].
  • /oː/ and /eː/ are pronounced as true mid vowels [o̞ː] and [e̞ː] respectively.
  • /u/ is pronounced allophonically as [] in most of the word initial and medial stressed syllables and strictly as [u] at the end of words and before [w].
  • /i/ is pronounced allophonically as [] in most of the word initial and medial stressed syllables and strictly as [i] at the end of words and before [j].
  • [ɑː] is an optional allophone for /aː/ in some words such as ألمانيا [almɑːnja] ('germany') and يابان [jaːbɑːn] ('japan').
Example words for vowel phonemes
Phoneme Phones Arabic Roman. Example
/a/ [a] ـَ a فَم fam ['fam] 'mouth'
/u/ [u] ـُ u حُدود ħudūd [ħu'duːd] 'borders'
[] حُب ħub ['ħo̞b] 'love'
/i/ [i] ـِ i كِتاب kitāb [ki'taːb] 'book'
[] طِب ib ['tˤe̞b] 'medicine'
/aː/ [] ا ā فاز fāz ['faːz] 'he won'
/uː/ [] و ū فوز fūz ['fuːz] 'win!' (Imperative)
/oː/ [o̞ː] و ō فوز fōz ['fo̞ːz] 'victory'
/iː/ [] ي ī دين dīn ['diːn] 'religion'
/eː/ [e̞ː] ي ē دين dēn ['de̞ːn] 'debt'

Free variation[edit]

Free variation occurs depending on word stress, speed of speaking and speakers' hometown accent between the short phoneme /i/ and its allophones [i] and [] with speakers using the two sounds and other speakers using only one ([i]), the same occurs with the phoneme /u/ and its allophones [u] and [] with speakers using the two sounds and speakers using only ([u]), but that doesn't apply to the vowels /eː/ and /iː/ and the vowels /oː/ and /uː/ where the four phonemes are considered as separate phonemes by all the speakers.

Phonological Processes[edit]

the linking conjunction و ('and') pronounced [u] is often linked with the consonant (before it) or the vowel (before or after it) or for emphasis only left as it is  :-

  • ِانا و إنتِ /ana u inti/ ('me and you') is either pronounced as [anaw e̞nti] where the [u] connected to the vowel before it or pronounced as [ana we̞nti] where the [u] connected to the vowel after it or left as it is for emphasis [ana u e̞nti].
  • واحد و خمسين /waːħid u xamsiːn/ ('fifty one') is either pronounced [waːħe̞du xamsiːn] or for emphasis [waːħe̞d u xamsiːn].
  • خمسة و سبعين /xamsa u sabʕiːn/ ('seventy five') is either pronounced [xamsaw sabʕiːn] or for emphasis [xamsa u sabʕiːn].


Hejazi vocabulary derives primarily from Classical Arabic Semitic roots. The urban Hejazi vocabulary differs in some respect from that of other dialects in the Arabian Peninsula. For example, there are fewer specialized terms related to desert life, and more terms related to seafaring and fishing. Loanwords are mainly of Turkish, Persian, Latin (French and Italian) and English origins, and due to the diverse origins of the inhabitants of Hejazi cities, some loanwords are only used by some families. Many loanwords are fading due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic and their association with lower social class and education.[10] Most of the loanwords are names of objects (with a change of meaning sometimes) as in : جزمة /d͡ʒazma/ "shoe" from Turkish çizme /t͡ʃizme/ originally meaning "boot" or كُبري /kubri/ "overpass" from köprü /køpry/ originally meaning "bridge".

Certain distinctive particles and vocabulary in urban Hejazi are قد /ɡid/ or قيد /ɡiːd/ "already", دحين /daħiːn/ or /daħeːn/ "now".

General Hejazi Expressions include بالتوفيق /bittawfiːg/ "good luck", لو سمحت /law samaħt/ "please/excuse me" to a male, شكرًا /ʃukran/ "thank you", عفوًا /ʕafwan/ "you are welcome (response)", إيوه /iːwa/ "yes", لأ /laʔ/ "no", لسة /lissa/ "not yet".


Portmanteau, also called a blend in linguistics,is a combination of taking parts (but not all) of two (or more) words or their sounds (phones) and their meanings into a single new, it a common feature in Hejazi especially in making new Interrogative words examples include :

  • إيش (/eːʃ/, what), from أي (/aj/, which) and شيء (/ʃajʔ/, thing).
  • ليش (/leːʃ/, why), from لأي (/liʔaj/, for what) and شيء (/ʃajʔ/, thing).
  • إلين (/ileːn/, until), from إلى (/ilaː/, to) and أن (/an/, that).
  • دحين (/daħiːn/ or /daħeːn/, now) or ذحين (/ðaħiːn/ or /ðaħeːn/, now) , from ذا (/ðaː/, this) and الحين (/alħiːn/, part of time).
  • علشان or عشان (/ʕalashaːn/ or /ʕashaːn/, because), from على (/ʕalaː/, on) and شأن (/ʃaʔn/, matter).
  • إيوه (/iːwa/, yes), from إي (/iː/, yes) and و (/wa/, and) and الله (/aɫɫaːh/, god).
  • يلّا (/jaɫɫa/, come on), from يا (/jaː/, oh) and الله (/aɫɫaːh/, god).


The Cardinal number system in Hejazi is much more simplified than the Classical Arabic[11]

numbers 1-10 IPA 11-20 IPA 10s IPA 100s IPA
1 واحد [waːħe̞d] 11 احدعش [e̞ħdaʕaʃ] 10 عشرة [ʕaʃara] 100 مية [mijja]
2 اثنين [e̞tne̞ːn] 12 اطنعش [e̞tˤnaʕaʃ] 20 عشرين [ʕe̞ʃriːn] 200 ميتين [mijte̞ːn] or [mijjate̞ːn]
3 ثلاثة [talaːta] 13 ثلثطعش [talattˤaʕaʃ] 30 ثلاثين [talaːtiːn] 300 ثلثمية [to̞ltumijja]
4 أربعة [arbaʕa] 14 أربعطعش [arbaʕtˤaʕaʃ] 40 أربعين [arbiʕiːn] 400 أربعمية [o̞rbuʕmijja]
5 خمسة [xamsa] 15 خمسطعش [xamastˤaʕaʃ] 50 خمسين [xamsiːn] 500 خمسمية [xo̞msumijja]
6 ستة [se̞tta] 16 ستطعش [se̞ttˤaʕaʃ] 60 ستين [se̞ttiːn] 600 ستمية [so̞ttumijja]
7 سبعة [sabʕa] 17 سبعطعش [sabaʕtˤaʕaʃ] 70 سبعين [sabʕiːn] 700 سبعمية [so̞bʕumijja]
8 ثمنية [tamanja] 18 ثمنطعش [tamantˤaʕaʃ] 80 ثمانين [tamaːniːn] 800 ثمنمية [to̞mnumijja]
9 تسعة [te̞sʕa] 19 تسعطعش [te̞saʕtˤaʕaʃ] 90 تسعين [te̞sʕiːn] 900 تسعمية [to̞sʕumijja]
10 عشرة [ʕaʃara] 20 عشرين [ʕe̞ʃriːn] 100 مية [mijja] 1000 ألف [alf]

A system similar to the German numbers system is used for other numbers between 20 and above : 21 is واحد و عشرين /waːħid u ʕiʃriːn/ which literally mean ('one and twenty') and 485 is أربعمية و خمسة و ثمانين /urbuʕmijja u xamsa u tamaːniːn/ which literally mean ('four hundred and five and eighty').

Unlike Classical Arabic,the only رقم [rage̞m] ('number') that is gender specified in Hejazi is one which has two forms واحد and وحدة as in كتاب واحد /kitaːb waːħid/ ('one book') or سيارة وحدة /sajjaːra waħda/ ('one car').

  • for 2 as in 'two cars' 'two years' 'two houses' etc. the dual form is used instead of the number with the suffix ēn /eːn/ or tēn /teːn/ (if the noun ends with a feminine /a/) as in كتابين /kitaːbeːn/ ('two books') or سيارتين /sajjarateːn/ ('two cars').
  • for numbers 3 to 10 the noun following the number is in plural form as in اربعة كتب /arbaʕa kutub/ ('4 books') or عشرة سيارات /ʕaʃara sajjaːraːt/ ('10 cars').
  • for numbers 11 and above the noun following the number is in singular form as in :-
    • from 11 to 19 an ـر [ar] is added to the end of the numbers as in اربعطعشر كتاب /arbaʕtˤaʕʃar kitaːb/ ('14 books') or احدعشر سيارة /iħdaʕʃar sajjaːra/ ('11 cars').
    • for 100s a [t] is added to the end of the numbers before the counted nouns as in ثلثمية سيارة /tultumijjat sajjaːra/ ('300 cars').
    • other numbers are simply added to the singular form of the noun واحد و عشرين كتاب /waːħid u ʕiʃriːn kitaːb/ ('21 books').


Subject pronouns[edit]

In Hejazi Arabic, personal pronouns have 8 forms simplified from the original Classical Arabic 12 pronouns. In singular, the 2nd and 3rd persons differentiate gender, while the 1st person and plural do not.


Hejazi Arabic verbs (فعل fiʻl; pl. أفعال afʻāl), as the verbs in other Semitic languages, and as the entire vocabulary in those languages, are based on a set of three, four also five consonants (but mainly three consonants) called a root (triliteral or quadriliteral according to the number of consonants). The root communicates the basic meaning of the verb, e.g. k-t-b 'to write', ʼ-k-l 'to eat'. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as :

  • Two tenses (past, present; present progressive is indicated by the prefix (b-), future is indicated by the prefix (ħ-))
  • Two voices (active, passive)
  • Two genders (masculine, feminine)
  • Three persons (first, second, third)
  • Two numbers (singular, plural)
  • Two moods (indicative, imperative).

Hejazi Has simplified the 3 Classical Arabic present verb moods (indicative رفع, subjunctive نصب, jussive جزم) into a single (indicative رفع) present mood by adopting the old (jussive جزم) forms with no (/-n/) ending, and has added a present progressive which is not part of the Classical Arabic grammar. And has simplified 3 grammatical number categories in verbs into 2 (Singular and Plural) instead of the Classical (Singular, Dual and Plural).

Regular verbs[edit]

the most common verbs in Hejazi have a given vowel pattern for past (a and i) to present (a or u or i). Combinations of each exist:

Vowel patterns Example
Past Present
a a raħam رحم he forgave - yirħam يرحم he forgives
a u ḍarab ضرب he hit - yiḍrub يضرب he hits
a i ġasal غسل he washed - yiġsil يغسل he washes
i a fihim فهم he understood - yifham يفهم he understands
i i ʕirif عرف he knew - yiʕrif يعرف he knows

According to Arab grammarians, verbs are divided into three categories; Past ماضي, Present مضارع and Imperative أمر. An example from the root k-t-b the verb katabt/aktub 'i wrote/i write' (which is a regular sound verb):

Tense/Mood Past "wrote" Present (Indicative) "write" Imperative "write!"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st كتبت (katab)-t كتبنا (katab)-na أكتب a-(ktub) نكتب ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine كتبت (katab)-t كتبتوا (katab)-tu تكتب ti-(ktub) تكتبوا ti-(ktub)-u أكتب [a]-(ktub) أكتبوا [a]-(ktub)-u
feminine كتبتي (katab)-ti تكتبي ti-(ktub)-i أكتبي [a]-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine كتب (katab) كتبوا (katab)-u يكتب yi-(ktub) يكتبوا yi-(ktub)-u
feminine كتبت (katab)-at تكتب ti-(ktub)

While present progressive and future are indicated by adding the prefix (b-) and (ħ-) respectively to the present (indicative) :

Tense/Mood Present Progressive "writing" Future "will write"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st بكتب or بأكتب ba-a-(ktub) بنكتب bi-ni-(ktub) حكتب or حأكتب ħa-a-(ktub) حنكتب ħa-ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine بتكتب bi-ti-(ktub) بتكتبوا bi-ti-(ktub)-u حتكتب ħa-ti-(ktub) حتكتبوا ħa-ti-(ktub)-u
feminine بتكتبي bi-ti-(ktub)-i حتكتبي ħa-ti-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine بيكتب bi-yi-(ktub) بيكتبوا bi-yi-(ktub)-u حيكتب ħa-yi-(ktub) حيكتبوا ħa-yi-(ktub)-u
feminine بتكتب bi-ti-(ktub) حتكتب ħa-ti-(ktub)
  • The Active Participles قاعد [gaːʕe̞d], قاعدة [gaːʕda] and قاعدين [gaːʕdiːn] can be used instead of the prefix بـ [b-] as in قاعد اكتب [gaːʕe̞d akto̞b] ('i'm writing') instead of باكتب/بكتب [bakto̞b] ('i'm writing') without any change in the meaning.
  • the 3rd person past plural suffix -u is turned into an -ō (long o) before being attached to pronoun suffixes. katabu [katabu] ('they wrote') → katabōli [katabo̞ːli] ('they wrote to me')
  • the verbs highlighted in silver sometimes come in irregular forms e.g. (ħabbē)-t "i loved", (ħabbē)-na "we loved" but (ħabb) "he loved" and (ħabb)-u "they loved".

Example: katabt/aktub "write": non-finite forms

Number/Gender اسم الفاعل Active Participle اسم المفعول Passive Participle مصدر Verbal Noun
Masc. Sg. kātib كاتب maktūb مكتوب kitāba كتابة
Fem. Sg. kātb-a كاتبة maktūb-a مكتوبة
Pl. kātb-īn كاتبين maktūb-īn مكتوبين

Active participles act as adjectives, and so they must agree with their subject. An active participle can be used in several ways:

  1. to describe a state of being (understanding; knowing).
  2. to describe what someone is doing right now (going, leaving) as in some verbs like رحت ("i went") the active participle رايح ("i'm going") is used instead of present continuous form to give the same meaning of an ongoing action.
  3. to indicate that someone/something is in a state of having done something (having put something somewhere, having lived somewhere for a period of time).

Object pronouns[edit]

Enclitic forms of object pronouns are suffixes that are affixed to various parts of speech, with varying meanings:

  • To the construct state of nouns, where they have the meaning of possessive demonstratives, e.g. "my, your, his".
  • To verbs, where they have the meaning of direct object pronouns, e.g. "me, you, him".
  • To verbs, where they have the meaning of indirect object pronouns, e.g. "(to/for) me,(to/for) you, (to/for) him".
  • To prepositions.

Unlike Egyptian Arabic, in Hejazi no more than one pronoun can be suffixed to a word.


  • When a noun ends in a feminine /a/ vowel as in مدرسة [madrasa] ('school') : a /t/ is added before the suffixes as in → مدرستي [madrasati] ('my school'), مدرسته [madrasatu] ('his school'), مدرستها [madrasatha] ('her school') and so on.
  • After a word ends in a vowel (other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns), the vowel is lengthened, and the pronouns in (Parentheses) are used instead of their original counterparts :-
    • the possessive pronouns as in كرسي [kursi] ('chair') → كرسيه [kurs] ('his chair'), كرسينا [kursna] ('our chair'), كرسيكي [kursiːki] ('your chair' f.)
    • the direct object pronouns لاحقنا [laːħagna] ('we followed') → لاحقناه [laːħagn] ('we followed him'), لاحقناكي [laːħagnki] ('we followed you' feminine).
    • the indirect object pronouns رحنا [ro̞ħna] ('we went') → رحنا له [ro̞ħnlu] ('we went to him').
  • After a word that ends in two consonants, or which has a long vowel in the last syllable, /-a-/ is inserted before the 5 suffixes which begin with a consonant /-ni/, /-na/, /-ha/, /-hom/, /-kom/ :-
    • the possessive pronouns كتاب [kitaːb] ('book') → كتابها [kitaːbaha] ('her book'), كتابهم [kitaːbaho̞m] ('their book'), كتابكم [kitaːbako̞m] ('your book' plural), كتابنا [kitaːbana] ('our book').
    • the direct object pronouns عرفت [ʕe̞re̞ft] ('you knew') → عرفتني [ʕe̞re̞ftani] ('you knew me'), عرفتنا [ʕe̞re̞ftana] ('you knew us'), عرفتها [ʕe̞re̞ftaha] ('you knew her'), عرفتهم [ʕe̞re̞ftaho̞m] ('you knew them').
  • only with indirect object pronouns when a verb ends in two consonants as in كتبت [katabt] ('i wrote') : an /-al-/ is added before the Indirect object pronoun suffixes → كتبت له [katabtallu] ('i wrote to him') , كتبت لهم [katabtallaho̞m] ('i wrote to them').
  • only with indirect object pronouns when a verb has a long vowel in the last syllable as in أروح [aruːħ] ('I go') : the vowel is shortened before the suffixes → أرُح لها [aruħlaha] ('I go to her') with the verbs resembeling the Jussive mood conjugation in Classical Arabic.
  1. An Early Qur'anic Manuscript written in Hijazi script (8th century AD).
    ^1 the colon between the (Parentheses) indicate that only the vowel is lengthened, since the word-final ـه [h] is silent in this position.
  2. ^2 if a noun ends with a vowel (other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns) that is /u/ or /a/ then the suffix (-ya) is used as in أبو [abu] ('father') becomes َابوي [abuːja] ('my father') but if it ends with an /i/ then the suffix (-yya) is added as in َّكرسي [kursijja] ('my chair').
  3. it is uncommon for Hejazi nouns to end in a vowel other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns.

Writing System[edit]

Hejazi is written using the Arabic alphabet, like other varieties of Arabic, Hejazi does not have a standard form of writing and mostly follows the Classical Arabic form of writing.[13] in general people alternate between writing the words according to their etymology or the phoneme used while pronouncing them, which mainly affect the three classical letters ⟨ث⟩ ,⟨ذ⟩ and ⟨ظ⟩ and their alternatives, and there is an alternation between writing some words that end in a vowel, whether to add a vowel at the end of the word or write its Classical Arabic form as in the word ('you' singular feminine) /inti/ which can be written as انتِ or انتي. The table below shows the Arabic alphabet letters and their corresponding phonemes in urban Hejazi :-

letter Phoneme example pronunciation
ا /ʔ/ (see ⟨ء⟩ Hamza). سأل "he asked" /saʔal/
// (shortened to /a/ word-final, except in two-letter words). باب "door", (انا "I am") /baːb/, (/ana/)
ب /b/ برق "lightning" /barg/
ت /t/ توت "berry" /tuːt/
/θ/ (alternative classical phoneme) or /s/ can be written ⟨س⟩ مثال "example" /miθaːl/ or /misaːl/
/t/ can be written ⟨ت⟩ ثلاثة "three" /talaːta/
ج /d͡ʒ/ جرس "bell" /d͡ʒaras/
ح /ħ/ حب "love" /ħub/
خ /x/ خس "lettus" /xas/
د /d/ ديك "rooster" /diːk/
/ð/ (alternative classical phoneme). ذكر "male" /ðakar/ or /dakar/
/d/ can be written ⟨د⟩ ذيل "tail" /deːl/
/z/ can be written ⟨ز⟩ ذوق "taste" /zoːg/
ر /r/ رمل "sand" /ramil/
ز /z/ زبيب "Raisins" /zabiːb/
س /s/ سمكة "fish" /samaka/
ش /ʃ/ شمس "sun" /ʃams/
ص // صبّار "cactus" /sˤabbaːr/
ض // ضرس "molar" /dˤirs/
ط // طلب "order" /tˤalab/
// لحظة "moment" /laħzˤa/
// can be written ⟨ض⟩ ظل "shade" /dˤil/
ع /ʕ/ عين "eye" /ʕeːn/
غ /ɣ/ غراب "crow" /ɣuraːb/
ف /f/ فم "mouth" /fam/
ق /g/ قلب "heart" /galb/
ك /k/ كتاب "book" /kitaːb/
ل /l/ (marginal phoneme /ɫ/ only in the word الله and words derived from it). لحم "meat", (الله "god") /laħam/, (/aɫɫaːh/)
م /m/ مكتب "desk" /maktab/
ن /n/ ناس "people" /naːs/
هـ /h/ or ∅ silent only word-final in 3rd person masculine singular pronouns and some words هوا "air", (كتابُه "his book") /hawa/, (/kitaːbu/)
و /w/ وردة "rose" /warda/
// موية "water" /moːja/
// (shortened to /u/ word-final, except in two-letter words). نور "light", (ربو "asthma") /nuːr/, (/rabu/)
ي /j/ يد "hand" /jad/
// كيف "how" /keːf/
// (shortened to /i/ word-final, except in two-letter words). فيل "elephant", (سعودي "saudi") /fiːl/, (/suʕuːdi/)

Short vowels are written as diacritics  :-

  1. ـَ above the letter for /a/.
  2. ـُ above the letter for /u/.
  3. ـِ under the letter for /i/.
  • Some words are an exception to these rules such as ضبط ("it worked") is pronounced /zˤabatˤ/ and not /dˤabatˤ/ and فخذ pronounced /faxdˤ/ and not /faxd/ or /faxð/.
  • The classical [q] is an allophone for /g/ ⟨ق⟩ only in few words and proper nouns e.g. قاموس "dictionary" /gaːmuːs/[qaːmuːs].
  • The classical [ðˤ] is an optional allophone for the letter ⟨ظ⟩, its usage depends on the speaker's preference.

Rural Dialects[edit]

The varieties of Arabic spoken in the smaller towns and by the bedouin tribes in the Hejaz region are relatively under-studied. However, the speech of some tribes shows much closer affinity to other bedouin dialects, particularly those of neighboring Najd, than to those of the urban Hejazi cities. The dialects of northern Hejazi tribes merge into those of Jordan and Sinai, while the dialects in the south merge with those of 'Asir and Najd. Also, not all speakers of these bedouin dialects are figuratively nomadic bedouins; some are simply sedentary sections that live in rural areas, and thus speak dialects similar to those of their bedouin neighbors.


The dialect of Al-`Ula governorate in the northern part of the Madinah region. Although understudied, it is considered to be unique among the Hejazi dialects, it is known for its pronunciation of Classical Arabic ⟨ك⟩ /k/ as a ⟨ش⟩ /ʃ/ (e.g. تكذب /takðib/ becomes تشذب /taʃðib/), the dialect also shows a tendency to pronounce long /aː/ as [] (e.g. Classical ماء /maːʔ/ becomes ميء [meːʔ]), in some instances the Classical /q/ becomes a /d͡ʒ as in قايلة /qaːjla/ becomes جايلة /d͡ʒaːjla/, also the second person singular feminine pronoun /ik/ tends to be pronounced as /iʃ/ (e.g. رجلك /rid͡ʒlik/ ('your foot') becomes رجلش /rid͡ʒliʃ/ .[14]


The dialect of Badr governorate in the western part of the Madinah region is mainly noted for its lengthening of word-final syllables and its alternative pronunciation of some phonemes as in سؤال /suʔaːl/ which is pronounced as سعال /suʕaːl/, it also shares some features with the general urban dialect in which modern standard Arabic ثلاجة /θallaːd͡ʒa/ is pronounced تلاجة /tallaːd͡ʒa/, another unique feature of the dialect is its similarity to the Arabic dialects of Bahrain.


  1. ^ Hejazi Arabic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Hejazi Arabic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Muhammad Swaileh A. Alzaidi (2014:73)
  4. ^ Eman M. Abdoh (2010:84)
  5. ^ Margaret K. Omar (1975:xv)
  6. ^ Eman M. Abdoh (2010:83)
  7. ^ Watson (2002:16)
  8. ^ Eman M. Abdoh (2010:84)
  9. ^ Margaret K. Omar (1975:xv)
  10. ^ Sameeha D. Alahmadi (2015:45)
  11. ^ Kheshaifaty, Hamza M.J. (1997)
  12. ^ Margaret K. Omar (1975)
  13. ^ Holes, Clive (2004). Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C. p. 92. 
  14. ^ Aljuhani, Sultan (2008). "Spoken Al-'Ula dialect between privacy and fears of extinction. (in Arabic)". 


External links[edit]