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Hejazi Arabic

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Hejazi Arabic

Hejazi Arabic
Native to Hejaz region, Saudi Arabia
Native speakers
6 million (1996)[1]
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 acw
Glottolog hija1235[2]
  regions where Hejazi is the language of the majority
  regions considered as part of modern Hejaz region

Hejazi Arabic (Arabic: حجازيḥijāzī), 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 distinct dialects spoken in the Hejaz region,[3] one by the bedouin rural population, and another by the urban population, the term most often applies to the urban variety, spoken in cities such as Jeddah, Mecca, Yanbu, Ta'if, and Medina.

Urban Hejazi appears to be most closely related to the Arabic dialects of Central Arabian Peninsula (Najdi Arabic), Northern Sudan and Egyptian Arabic in both pronunciation and grammar. Hejazi Arabic has many close similarities between Egyptian Arabic and Najdi Arabic.[4] Hejazi Arabic dialect is also spoken by Rashaida in Eritrea and Sudan. Hejazi Arabic is used for daily communications and has no official status, instead, Modern Standard Arabic is used for official purposes, especially in Eritrea where Arabic is not the lingua franca.


Hejazi 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 Hejazi from the neighbouring accent Najdi and other accents in the Arabian peninsula is the absence of vowel reduction, the distinction between the letters ض and ظ, and the pronunciation of the letters ذ, ث, 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.

General features

Like other sedentary dialects, the urban Hejazi dialect is less conservative than the bedouin varieties and has therefore shed many Classical forms and features that are still present in many 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). Features that mark Hejazi Arabic as a sedentary dialect include:

  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 /ðˤ/ ظ is generally preserved in some 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").
  5. Possessive pronouns for the 2nd person are -ak (masculine) and -ek (feminine). In Standard Arabic, these are -ka and -ki, respectively.
  6. 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/.
  7. The prohibitive mood of Classical Arabic is preserved in the imperative: لا تروح /laː tiruːħ/ ("don't go").
  8. The possessive suffixes are generally preserved in their Classical forms. For example, بيتكم /beːtakum/ "your (pl) house".

Other features

Other features of Hejazi Arabic are:

  1. Compared to neighboring dialects, urban Hijazi 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 [plural] possession", as opposed to bedouin /ʕandkum/, Egyptian /ʕanduku/, and Levantine /ʕandkun/
  1. The plural first person pronoun is نحنا /niħna/ or إحنا /iħna/, as opposed to the bedouin حنّا /ḥənna/ or إنّا /ənna/.
  2. When used to indicate location, the preposition في /fi/ is preferred to بـ /b/ . In bedouin dialects, the preference differs by region.
  3. Less restriction on the distribution of /i/ and /u/.
  4. The glottal stop can be added to final syllables ending in a vowel as a way of emphasising.
  5. The qaaf (ق) of Modern Standard Arabic is pronounced /g/ except in certain words.


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. Due to the diverse origins of the inhabitants of Hejazi cities, few borrowings from the dialects of Egypt, Syria, and Yemen exist but now are fading due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic. and even the Five centuries of Turkish rule only had a slight influence on Hejazi and most of the loanwords are names of objects (with a change of meaning sometimes) as in : جزمة /d͡ʒazma/ "shoe" from çizme /t͡ʃizme/ originally meaning "boot" or كُبري /kubri/ "overpass" from köprü /køpry/ originally meaning "bridge".

Certain distinctive particles and vocabulary in Hejazi are قد /ɡid/ or قيد /ɡiːd/ "already", دحين /daħiːn/ or /daħeːn/ "now", and لسه /lissa/ "not yet".

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".


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/, until), 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 (/allaːh/, god).


The Cardinal number system in Hejazi is much more simplified than the Classical Arabic[5]
numbers 1-10 IPA 11-20 IPA 10s IPA 100s IPA
1 واحد [waːħe̞d] 11 احدعش [e̞ħdaʕaʃ] 10 عشرة [ʕaʃara] 100 مية [mijja]
2 اتنين [e̞tne̞ːn] 12 اطنعش [e̞tˤnaʕaʃ] 20 عشرين [ʕe̞ʃriːn] 200 ميتين [mijte̞ːn] or [mijjate̞ːn]
3 تلاتة [talaːta] 13 تلطّعش [tˤalatˤtˤaʕaʃ] 30 تلاتين [talaːtiːn] 300 تلتمية [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 سطّعش [se̞tˤtˤaʕaʃ] 60 ستين [se̞ttiːn] 600 ستمية [so̞ttumijja]
7 سبعة [sabʕa] 17 سبعطعش [sabaʕtˤaʕaʃ] 70 سبعين [sabʕiːn] 700 سبعمية [so̞bʕumijja]
8 تمنية [tamanja] 18 تمنطعش [tˤamantˤaʕaʃ] 80 تمانين [tamaːniːn] 800 تمنمية [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 تمانين /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 and has two forms is number 1 which is واحد and وحدة as in كتاب واحد /kitaːb waːħid/ ('one book') or سيارة وحدة /sajjara waħda/ ('one car').

  1. 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').
  2. 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 sajjaraːt/ ('10 cars').
  3. for numbers 11 and above the noun following the number is in singular form as in :-
a- 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').
b- for 100s a [t] is added to the end of the numbers before the counted nouns as in تلتمية سيارة /tultumijjat sajjaːra/ ('300 cars').
c- other numbers are simply added to the singular form of the noun واحد و عشرين كتاب /waːħid u ʕiʃriːn kitaːb/ ('21 books').


Urban Hejazi Arabic has 30 consonant phonemes of which 4 mainly occur in Classical Arabic words (/θ, ð, ðˤ, q/) and 8 vowel phonemes (/a, u, i, aː, uː, iː, oː, eː/). Consonant length and Vowel length are both distinctive in Hejazi.

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


This is a table of the consonant sounds of Hejazi Arabic. Sounds in parentheses are allophones, and sounds with an asterisk exist only in loanwords (not used by all speakers).

Hejazi Arabic consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Alveolar Palato-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
 plain  emphatic  plain  emphatic
Plosive voiceless پ p* ت t ط تش t͡ʃ* ك k ق q ء ʔ
voiced ب b د d ض ج d͡ʒ ق ɡ
Fricative voiceless ف f ث θ س s ص ش ʃ خ x ح ħ هـ h
voiced ڤ v* ذ ð ظ ðˤ ز z ظ غ ɣ ع ʕ
Nasal م m ن n
Lateral ل l ل (ɫ)
Trill ر r
Approximant ي j و w
  • ^1 the phonemes /p/ پ, /v/ ڤ, /t͡ʃ/ تش are only found in loanwords and they can be pronounced as /b/, /f/ and /ʃ/ respectively depending on the speaker.
  • ^2 the phonemes /dʒ/ and the trill /r/ are realised as a [ʒ] and a tap [ɾ] respectively by some speakers.
  • ^3 the dental consonant ث is mostly rendered /t/ and rarely /s/ or kept /θ/ in Classical Arabic borrowings, it remains dental in the countryside.
  • ^4 the dental consonant ذ is mostly rendered /d/ and sometimes /z/ or kept /ð/ in Classical Arabic borrowings, it remains dental in the countryside.
  • ^5 the dental consonant ظ is mostly rendered /dˤ/ and sometimes /zˤ/ or kept /ðˤ/ in Classical Arabic borrowings, it remains dental in the countryside.
  • ^6 the phoneme /q/ occurs only in few words and proper names.[6]and it contrasts with /g/ in a number of words as in قرون /guruːn/ ('horns') vs. /quruːn/ ('centuries').
  • ^7 [ɫ] is an allophone of /l/ ل in the words الله [aɫɫaːh] ('god') and يلاّ [jaɫɫa] ('come on') .


Hejazi has eight vowel phonemes; 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 of 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 classical short /u/ and /i/ split into two allophones each, with /u/ splitting into an unstressed [u] and a stressed [o̞], and /i/ splitting into unstressed [i] and stressed [e̞], though this split 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'/'my floor') vs. /dri/ ('turn around!'). All word-final long vowels /aː/, /uː/ and /iː/ are shortened except in two-letter words.

Hejazi vowels
  Front Back
short long short long
Close i u
Mid (e) (o)
Open a  
The vowel phonemes of Hejazi Arabic.
  • /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.
  • short [] and [] are allophones of /u/ and /i/ in most of the stressed syllables.
  • [ɑː] is an optional allophone of /aː/ in some loanwords such as ألمانيا [almɑːnja] ('germany') and يابان [jaːbɑːn] ('japan').
Example words for vowel phonemes
Phoneme IPA Arabic Example
/a/ [a] ـَ فَم fam ['fam] 'mouth'
/u/ [u] ـُ حُدود ħudūd [ħu'duːd] 'borders'
[] حُب ħob ['ħo̞b] 'love'
/i/ [i] ـِ كِتاب kitāb [ki'taːb] 'book'
[] طِب eb ['tˤe̞b] 'medicine'
/aː/ [] ا فاز fāz ['faːz] 'he won'
/uː/ [] و فوز fūz ['fuːz] 'win!' (Imperative)
/oː/ [o̞ː] و فوز fōz ['fo̞ːz] 'victory'
/iː/ [] ي دين dīn ['diːn] 'religion'
/eː/ [e̞ː] ي دين dēn ['de̞ːn] 'debt'
  • ^a Complementary distribution occurs depending on the speaker's hometown accent and background, between the short phoneme /i/ and its allophones [i] and [] with speakers contrasting between the two sounds and other speakers using only one ([i]), the same occurs with the phoneme /u/ and its allophones [u] and [] with speakers contrasting between 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

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 انتي /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].


Subject Pronouns

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 'write', ʼ-k-l '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 ba/be, future is indicated by the prefix ħa)
  • Two voices (active, passive)
  • Two genders (masculine, feminine)
  • Three persons (first, second, third)
  • Two numbers (singular, plural)
  • Two moods (indicative, imperative).

There are two classes in hejazi verb conjugation : Sound Verbs (don't have y or w in their root letters) and Weak verbs ( that have a y or w as one or more of the root radicals).

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 (subjunctive نصب) 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).

an example of one of the forms is :

Regular verbs, form I

Form I verbs which are the most common in Hejazi and the simplest have a given vowel pattern for past (a and e) to present (o or a or e). Combinations of each exist:

Vowel patterns Example
Past Present
a o ḍarab ضرب - yeḍrob يضرب to beat
a a raħam رحم - yerħam يرحم to forgive
a e ġasal غسل - yeġsel يغسل to wash
e a fehem فهم - yefham يفهم to understand
e e sereʕ سرع - yesreʕ يسرع to speed up

An example from the root k-t-b the verb 'katab/yektob 'write' (which is a regular sound verb):

Tense/Mood Past Present (Indicative) Present (Progressive) Future Imperative
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st (katab)-t (katab)-na a-(ktob) ne-(ktob) ba-(ktob) be-ne-(ktob) ħa-(ktob) ħa-ne-(ktob)
2nd masculine (katab)-t (katab)-tu te-(ktob) te-(ktob)-u be-te-(ktob) be-te-(ktob)-u ħa-te-(ktob) ħa-te-(ktob)-u [a]-(ktob) [a]-(ktob)-u
feminine (katab)-ti te-(ktob)-i be-te-(ktob)-i ħa-te-(ktob)-i [a]-(ktob)-i
3rd masculine (katab) (katab)-u ye-(ktob) ye-(ktob)-u be-ye-(ktob) be-ye-(ktob)-u ħa-ye-(ktob) ħa-ye-(ktob)-u
feminine (katab)-at te-(ktob) be-te-(ktob) ħa-te-(ktob)
  • The Active Participles قاعد [gaːʕe̞d] قاعدة [gaːʕda] قاعدين [gaːʕdiːn] can be used instead of the prefix بـ [ba/be] as in قاعد اكتب [gaːʕe̞d akto̞b] ('i'm writing') instead of 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')

Example: katab/yektob "write": non-finite forms

Number/Gender اسم الفاعل Active Participle اسم المفعول Passive Participle مصدر Verbal Noun
Masc. Sg. kāteb 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

Enclitic forms of object pronouns are suffixes that (الضمائر المتصلة) 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 1 pronoun can be suffixed to a word.


1-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.

2-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 :-

  • a- the possessive pronouns as in كرسي [kursi] ('chair') → كرسيه [kurs] ('his chair'), كرسينا [kursna] ('our chair'), كرسيكي [kursiːki] ('your chair' f.)
  • b- the direct object pronouns لاحقنا [laːħagna] ('we followed') → لاحقناه [laːħagn] ('we followed him'), لاحقناكي [laːħagnki] ('we followed you' feminine).
  • c- the indirect object pronouns رحنا [ro̞ħna] ('we went') → رحناله [ro̞ħnlu] ('we went to him').

3-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/ :-

  • a-the possessive pronouns كتاب [kitaːb] ('book') → كتابها [kitaːbaha] ('her book'), كتابهم [kitaːbaho̞m] ('their book'), كتابكم [kitaːbako̞m] ('your book' plural), كتابنا [kitaːbana] ('our book').
  • b-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').

4-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 → كتبتلّه [katabtallu] ('i wrote to him') , كتبتلهم [katabtallaho̞m] ('i wrote to them').

5-only with indirect object pronouns when a verb has a long vowel in the last syllable as in راح [raːħ] ('he went') : the vowel is shortened before the suffixes → رحلها [raħlaha] ('he went to her')

  • ^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 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 ابويا [abuːja] ('my father') but if it ends with an /i/ then the suffix (-yya) is added as in [kursijja] ('my chair').
  • it is uncommon for Hejazi nouns to end in a vowel other than the /-a/ of the feminine nouns.

Writing System

Hejazi is written using the Arabic alphabet, like other varieties of Arabic, Hejazi does not have a standard form of writing and people may alternate between the three letters ذ ,ث and ظ and their alternatives when writing a word, whether to write it according to its etymology or the phoneme used while pronouncing it, 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') for singular female which can be written as انتِ or انتي. In pronunciation speakers mainly alternate between the pronunciations of the dental letters as well ث /θ/, ذ /ð/ and ظ /ðˤ/ and their 3 alternative pronunciation each. The table below shows the Hejazi alphabet and each alternative letter and pronunciation for each phoneme :-

letter phoneme example pronunciation
/ʔ/ see Hamza سأل "he asked" [saʔal]
/a/ word-final (except in two-letter words)
باب "door"
انا "I am"
/b/ برق "lightning" [barg]
/t/ توت "berry" [tuːt]
/θ/ in Classical Arabic words (original sound) مثال "example" [miθaːl] can be pronounced [misaːl]
/t/ can be written ت ثلاثة "three" can be written تلاتة [talaːta]
/s/ can be written س حادث "accident" can be written حادس [ħaːde̞θ] can be pronounced [ħaːde̞s]
/d͡ʒ/ جرس "bell" [d͡ʒaras]
/ħ/ حب "love" [ħo̞b]
/x/ خس "lettus" [xas]
/d/ ديك "rooster" [diːk]
/ð/ in Classical Arabic words (original sound) ذكر "male" [ðakar]
/d/ can be written د ذيل "tail" can be written ديل [de̞ːl]
/z/ can be written ز ذوق "taste" can be written زوق [zo̞ːg]
/r/ رمل "sand" [rame̞l]
/z/ زبيب "Raisins" [zabiːb]
/s/ سمكة "fish" [samaka] (plural: samak)
/ʃ/ شمس "sun" [ʃams]
// صبّار "cactus" [sˤabbaːr]
// ضلع "rib" [dˤe̞lʕ]
// طب "medicine" [tˤe̞b]
/ðˤ/ in Classical Arabic words (original sound) ظاهرة "phenomenon" [ðˤaːhra] can be pronounced [zˤaːhra]
// can be written ض ظل "shade" can be written ضل [dˤe̞l]
// لحظة "moment" [laħzˤa]
/ʕ/ عين "eye" [ʕe̞ːn]
/ɣ/ غراب "crow" [ɣuraːb]
/f/ فم "mouth" [fam]
/q/ only in few words (original sound) قارّة "continent" [qaːrra]
/g/ قليل "little" [galiːl]
/k/ كتاب "book" [kitaːb]
/l/ لحم "meat" [laħam]
/m/ مكتب "desk" [maktab]
/n/ ناس "people" [naːs]
/h/ هوا "air" [hawa]
(silent) only word-final in 3rd person masculine singular pronouns,
it indicates word-final long vowels.
عليه "on him"
كتابُه "his book"
/w/ وردة "rose" [warda]
// موية "water" [mo̞ːja]
/u/ word-final (except in two-letter words)
نور "light"
ربو "asthma"
/j/ يد "hand" [jad]
// كيف "how" [ke̞ːf]
/i/ word-final (except in two-letter words)
فيل "elephant"
سعودي "saudi"

some words are an exception to these rules such as ضبط ("it worked") is pronounced /zˤabatˤ/ and not /dˤabatˤ/ and سبورة ("whiteboard/blackboard") is pronounced /sˤabbuːra/ and not /sabbuːra/. 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/.
  • ^1 for the letter ث the phonemes /θ/ and /s/ are interchangeable with speakers mostly preferring one sound to another or using both.

Bedouin Hejazi

The varieties of Arabic spoken by the bedouin tribes of 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 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. It is also worth noting that many large tribal confederations in Najd and eastern Arabia are recent migrants from the Hejaz, including the tribes of Utaybah, Mutayr, Harb, and Bani Khalid. In earlier times, many other Arab tribes also came from the Hejaz, including Kinanah, Juhayna, Banu Sulaym, and Ghatafan. 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.


  • Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Language, NITLE Arab World Project, by the permission of Edinburgh University Press, [1]
  • Bruce Ingham, "Some Characteristics of Meccan Speech", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 34, No. 2. (1971), pp. 273–297. [2]


External links


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