Kuwaiti Arabic

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Arabic language dialects

Kuwaiti Arabic is a Gulf Arabic dialect spoken in Kuwait. Kuwaiti Arabic shares many phonetic features unique to Gulf dialects. Due to Kuwait's strong soap opera industry, Kuwaiti Arabic spread throughout the Arabic-speaking world and became familiar even to people in countries such as Tunisia.[1]

History and Development[edit]

Since Kuwait was a nation of immigrants with no native population, Kuwait has a different sociolinguists structure. Three groups make up the Kuwaiti population: The first being the descendant of Arab tribes, while the second are people originally from Al-Hasa in modern-day Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iraq, and the third are people originally from Persia (modern-day Iran), known in Kuwait by the name Ayam[1]. Some people believe the third to be of a lower status due to their origins.[2]

Varieties[edit]

Kuwaiti is divided into two varieties: Urban (Sedentary) and Nomadic or Bedouin.[3] The first is believed to have developed due to exposure to the outside world, as well as the Kuwaiti being a country of multi-regional immigrants during its infantry. The Urban dialect is seen as more prestigious than the Bedouin one.[4]

Status[edit]

Dashti identifies four varieties of Arabic in Kuwait. Classical Arabic (CA), the language of the Quran, the liturgical language of Islam, the religion of the vast majority of Kuwaitis, and old Arabic literature, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which is the medium of formal communication and school education. This variety is considered the second language of Kuwaitis as they are only introduced to when they start school. Kuwaiti Arabic (KA), the language of everyday's life and the symbol of the Kuwaiti identity. It is a symbol of prestige in the Kuwaiti society. The last variety is Educated Standard Arabic (ESA), in which the speaker mixes between MSA and KA. This language is used in Radio, TV, and academics' informal discussions. Kuwait is diglossic, like the rest of the Arab world, with the Arabic language being seen us the high variety, while Kuwaiti is seen more like a patois or a low-variety colloquial dialect of Arabic.[5][6]

Kuwaiti is the "normal" way of speaking in everyday's life and is acquired naturally at home and not taught at schools (as it is considered a mere dialect of the Arabic language by the public).

After conducting several interviews with speakers of Kuwaiti, Akbar states that for many, speaking Kuwaiti is the most important criterion of being considered Kuwaiti.[7]

Features and Characteristics[edit]

Kuwaiti Arabic is a variant of Gulf Arabic, sharing similarities with the dialects of neighboring coastal areas in Eastern Arabia.[8] Due to immigration during its early history as well as trade, Kuwaiti was influenced by many languages such as Persian, English, Italian, Urdu, Turkish, and others.[9]

A unique characteristic in Kuwait is the use of words and phrases by women exclusively, for example "يَا حَافِظ", roughly translated to "Oh Saver [God]", is rarely or never used by men.[10] It's also different than a lot of Arabic variants in the way that phonological assimilation occurs to a multitude of words, but not to all of them. The only case of full assimilation is /dˤ/ changing to /ðˤ/ in all words.

Vocabulary[edit]

Kuwaiti borrowed a lot of words from different languages due to immigration and trade. Below are few examples with the corresponding Arabic words. As noted, a lot of words come from Persian. This is due to the fact that the only original inhabitants of Kuwait who were not Arabs were Persians.

Note: A green box indicates that the MSA word is used in Kuwaiti (most of the times interchangeably), while a red box means it's not.

Word Pronunciation Meaning Origin In Original Language In Modern Standard Arabic
دِقْمَة /dɪg.mə/ Button (A physical button, like in a device, or a digital button, like in a computer program) Persian or Turkish دکمه or düğme زِر
زرَار /zrar/ Button (in clothes) Arabic زِر
شِقَرْدِي /ʃɪgərdɪ/ Good or kind-hearted person Persian شگردي طَيِّب
بَخْت /bəxt/ Luck or fortune Persian بخت حَظ
وَايِر /wajɪr/ Wire English --- سِلْك
دَبَل /dəbəl/ Double English --- مزدوج or ثنائي
أَصَنْصير /əsˤən.sˤe:r/ Lift (elevator) French Ascenseur مِصْعَد
تِيلَة /tiːlə/ Marble (toy) Persian تیله Does not exist
كَتِر /kətɪr/ (Physical) place or quarter, as in a place in a house English Quarter مكان or زاوية
جيكَر /dʒeːkər/ Ugly (used humourously a lot of times) English Joker, from the playing card قبيح (lacks humorous meaning)
رزنامة /rɪznamə/ Calendar Persian روزنامه تقويم
شورْبَة /ʃo:rbə/ Soup Turkish çorba حَسَاء
صَالون /sˤalo:n/ Lounge French Salon ردهة
طرْشِي /tˤʊrʃi/ Pickle Persian ترشي مُخَلَّل
ڤِلَّه /vɪl.lə/ Villa French Villa Does not exist. However the same word is used sometimes.
نَمْرَة or نِمْرَة /nɪmrə/ or /nəmrə/ (Phone) Number Romance رقم
بنگ /bəng/ Bank English Bank مَصْرِف
يَواشْ يَواش /jəwaʃ jəwaʃ/ Slow Down/Be Careful Persian يواش تَمَهَّل
طوز /tˤo:z/ Sandstorm Turkish Toz عاصفة غبارية/عاصفة ترابية
قز /gəz/ Nougat Persian گز نوغة
قَز (Homonym of the above word) /gəz/ To wander around purposelessly in active places like malls English Gaze[11]

Old-fashioned or obsolete words[edit]

some words were replaced by native Arabic words over time. A few examples of such words include:[12]

  • رنق (ring), A persian word that means colour.
  • بنسل (binsil), from English Pencil.
  • كنديشن (candeshin), from English Conditioner (as in Air conditioner).
  • فنگر (finger), from English.[13]
  • كرفاية (karfaya), from Hindi.

Dr. Ya'goob al-Ghaneem points at the increasing numbers of Arab expatriate and exposure to media in different Arabics as the reasons behind this change. Fatima Mahasin hypothesises that the words being replaced are not of English, French or Italian origins, and tend originate from "less-prestigious" languages.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mansfield, Peter (1990). Kuwait: vanguard of the Gulf. Hutchinson. p. 113. Some Kuwaiti soap operas have become extremely popular and, although they are usually performed in the Kuwaiti dialect, they have been shown with success as far away as Tunisia. 
  2. ^ Akbar, Rahima (April 2007). "1.2 People of Kuwait". Students' and Teachers' attitudes towards Kuwaiti/English code-switching (PDF) (Ph.D.). Cardiff University. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Mahsain, Fatima (April 2007). "1.2.4.1 Language". Motivations Behind Code-switching Among Kuwaiti Bilingual Schools‟ Students (PDF) (Ph.D.). University of Manchester. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Dashti, Abdulmuhsin (1997). Language choice in the state of Kuwait : a sociolinguistic investigation. (Ph.D.). p. 41. 
  5. ^ Akbar, Rahima (April 2007). "1.3 The Sociolinguistic Situation in Kuwait". Students' and Teachers' attitudes towards Kuwaiti/English code-switching (PDF) (Ph.D.). Cardiff University. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Mahsain, Fatima (April 2007). "1.2.4.2 Literacy". Motivations Behind Code-switching Among Kuwaiti Bilingual Schools‟ Students (PDF) (Ph.D.). University of Manchester. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  7. ^ Akbar, Rahima (April 2007). "2.2.2 Language as a Symbol of Group Identity". Students' and Teachers' attitudes towards Kuwaiti/English code-switching (PDF) (Ph.D.). Cardiff University. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  8. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20150120084008/http://kuwait.tt/articledetails.aspx?Id=161203
  9. ^ Mahsain, Fatima (April 2007). "1.2.4.1 Language". Motivations Behind Code-switching Among Kuwaiti Bilingual Schools‟ Students (PDF) (Ph.D.). University of Manchester. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  10. ^ Lahjah Kuwaiti-Arabic dictionary
  11. ^ "يوسف البدر يستعرض كلمات كويتية اصولها الاولى بريطانية في جامعة شيفيلد بالمملكة المتحدة". الوطـــن الإلكترونية. Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  12. ^ al-Ghaneem, Ya'goob. ألفاظ اللهجة الكويتية في كتاب – لسان العرب – لإبن منظور. 
  13. ^ Dashti, Abdulmuhsin (2015). "The Role and Status of the English Language in Kuwait". English Today. pp. 28-33. doi:10.1017/S026607841500022X
  14. ^ Mahsain, Fatima (April 2007). "1.2.4.1 Language". Motivations Behind Code-switching Among Kuwaiti Bilingual Schools‟ Students (PDF) (Ph.D.). University of Manchester. Retrieved 7 July 2016.