West Arabian Arabic
|Native to||Hejaz region, Saudi Arabia|
|14.5 million (2011)|
regions where Hejazi is the language of the majority
regions considered as part of modern Hejaz region
Hejazi Arabic or Hijazi Arabic (Arabic: , romanized: ?ij?z?), also known as West Arabian Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken in the Hejaz region in Saudi Arabia. Strictly speaking, there are two main groups of dialects spoken in the Hejaz region, one by the urban population, originally spoken in the major cities of Jeddah, Mecca and Medina, and another by the Bedouin or rural populations. However, the term most often applies to the urban variety which is discussed in this article.
In antiquity, the Hejaz was home to the Old Hejazi dialect of Arabic. Old Hejazi is distinct from modern Hejazi Arabic, and represents an older linguistic layer wiped out by centuries of migration, but which happens to share the imperative prefix vowel /a-/ with the modern dialect.
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.
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 in some aspects and has therefore shed some Classical forms and features that are still present in bedouin dialects, these include gender-number disagreement, and the feminine marker -n (see Varieties of Arabic). But in contrast to bedouin dialects, the constant use of full vowels and the absence of vowel reduction plus the distinction between the emphatic letters ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ is generally retained.
The Arabic of today is derived principally from the old dialects of Central and North Arabia which were divided by the classical Arab grammarians into three groups: Hejaz, Najd, and the language of the tribes in adjoining areas. Though the modern Hejazi dialects has developed markedly since the development of Classical Arabic, and Modern Standard Arabic is quite distinct from the modern dialect of Hejaz. Standard Arabic now differs considerably from modern Hejazi Arabic in terms of its phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon, such diglossia in Arabic began to emerge at the latest in the sixth century CE when oral poets recited their poetry in a proto-Classical Arabic based on archaic dialects which differed greatly from their own.
Historically, it is not well known in which stage of Arabic the shift from the Proto-Semitic pair /q, g/ to Hejazi /g, d/ ⟨?, ?⟩ occurred, although it has been attested as early as the eighth century CE, and it can be explained by a chain shift /q/* -> /g/ -> /d/ that occurred in one of two ways:
In general, Hejazi native phonemic inventory consists of 26 (with no interdental /?, ð/) to 28 consonant phonemes depending on the speaker's background and formality, in addition to the marginal phoneme and two foreign phonemes /p/ ??? and /v/ ??? used by a number of speakers. Furthermore it has an eight-vowel system, consisting of three short and five long vowels /a, u, i, a:, u:, o:, i:, e:/, in addition to two diphthongs /aw, aj/.Consonant length and Vowel length are both distinctive in Hejazi.
The main phonological feature that differentiates urban Hejazi from the neighboring urban and rural dialects of the Arabian peninsula, is the constant use of full vowels and the absence of vowel reduction, for example ? 'we told them', is pronounced [g?lna:lah?m] in Hejazi with full vowels but pronounced with the reduced vowel [?] as [g?lna:l?h?m] in Najdi. In general it also retains the distinction between the letters ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, but alternates between the pronunciations of the letters ⟨?⟩ ,⟨?⟩, and ⟨?⟩ which is another divergent feature. (See Hejazi Arabic Phonology)
A conservative phonological feature that Hejazi holds is the lack of palatalization for the letters ? /k/, ? /g/ and ? /d/, unlike in other peninsular dialects where they can be palatalized and merged with other phonemes in certain positions e.g. Hejazi ? 'new' [dadi:d] vs Gulf Arabic [j?di:d], it is also worth mentioning that this trait of non-palatalization is becoming common across Saudi Arabia especially in urban centers, another feature is that the ? /l/ is only velarized /?/ in the word ? /a?:a:h/ 'god' (except when it follows an /i/ ? /bismil:a:h/ or /lil:a:h/) and in words derived from it, unlike other peninsular dialects where it might be velarized allophonically, as in pronounced [?a?e?l] in Hejazi but [?a] in other peninsular Arabic dialects.
Most of the occurrences of the two diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ in the Classical Arabic period underwent monophthongization in Hejazi, and are realized as the long vowels /e:/ and /o:/ respectively, but they are still preserved as diphthongs in a number of words which created a contrast with the long vowels /u:/, /o:/, /i:/ and /e:/.
|Example (without diacritics)||Meaning||Hejazi Arabic||Modern Standard Arabic|
Not all instances of mid vowels are a result of monophthongization, some are from grammatical processes /ga:lu/ 'they said' -> /ga:lo:laha/ 'they said to her' (opposed to Classical Arabic /qa:lu: laha:/), and some occur in modern Portmanteau words e.g. /le:?/ 'why?' (from Classical Arabic /li?aj/ 'for what' and /?aj?/ 'thing').
Hejazi vocabulary derives primarily from 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 Persian, Turkish, 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. A number of old loanwords are fading or became obsolete due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic and their association with lower social class and education, e.g. /kun'de:?an/ "air conditioner" (from English Condition) was replaced by Standard Arabic /mukaj:if/. Most of the loanwords are nouns (with a change of meaning sometimes) as in: ? /dazma/ "shoe" from Turkish çizme /tizme/ originally meaning "boot" or /kubri/ "overpass" from köprü /køpry/ originally meaning "bridge".
Some general Hejazi expressions include /bit:awfi:g/ "good luck", ? /?i:wa/ "yes", /la?/ "no", /lis:a/ "not yet", /?id/ or /?i:d/ "already", ? /da?i:n/ or /da?e:n/ "now", ? /?ab?a/ "I want", ? /law sama?t/ "please/excuse me" to a male and /law sama?ti/ "please/excuse me" to a female.
A common feature in Hejazi vocabulary is portmanteau words (also called a blend in linguistics); in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, it is especially innovative in making Interrogative words, examples include:
The Cardinal number system in Hejazi is much more simplified than the Classical Arabic
|1 ?||/wa:?id/||11||/i?da?a?/||10 ?||/?a?ara/||100||/mij:a/|
|2||/itne:n/ or /i?ne:n/||12||/it?na?a?/ or /i?na?a?/||20||/?i?ri:n/||200||/mijte:n/ or /mij:ate:n/|
|3||/tala:ta/ or /?ala:?a/||13||/talatt?a?a?/ or /?ala?t?a?a?/||30||/tala:ti:n/ or /?ala:?i:n/||300||/tultumij:a/ or /?ul?umij:a/|
|6||/sit:a/||16||/sitt?a?a?/||60 ?||/sit:i:n/||600 ?||/sut:umij:a/|
|8||/tamanja/ or /?amanja/||18||/tamant?a?a?/ or /?amant?a?a?/||80||/tama:ni:n/ or /?ama:ni:n/||800||/tumnumij:a/ or /?umnumij:a/|
A system similar to the German numbers system is used for other numbers between 20 and above : 21 is ? ? /wa:?id u ?i?ri:n/ which literally mean ('one and twenty') and 485 is ? ? ? ? /urbu?mij:a u xamsa u tama:ni:n/ which literally mean ('four hundred and five and eighty').
Unlike Classical Arabic, the only number that is gender specific in Hejazi is "one" which has two forms ? m. and ? f. as in ? ? /kita:b wa:?id/ ('one book') or ? /saj:a:ra wa?da/ ('one car'), with ? being a masculine noun and a feminine noun.
In Hejazi Arabic, personal pronouns have eight forms. In singular, the 2nd and 3rd persons differentiate gender, while the 1st person and plural do not.
Hejazi Arabic verbs, as with the verbs in other Semitic languages, and 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', '-k-l 'to eat'. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as :
Hejazi Has a single indicative present verb mood instead of the three Classical Arabic present verb moods (indicative , subjunctive , jussive ), it also includes present progressive tense which was not part of the Classical Arabic grammar, and has a two grammatical number in verbs (Singular and Plural) instead of the Classical (Singular, Dual and Plural).
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:
|a||a||ra?am he forgave - yir?am ? he forgives|
|a||u||?arab he hit - yi?rub ? he hits|
|a||i||?asal he washed - yi?sil ? he washes|
|i||a||fihim he understood - yifham ? he understands|
|i||i||?irif he knew - yi?rif ? he knows|
According to Arab grammarians, verbs are divided into three categories; Past ?, Present and Imperative . 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!"|
|1st||? (katab)-t||(katab)-na||? 'a-(ktub)||? ni-(ktub)|
|2nd||masculine||? (katab)-t||(katab)-tu||? ti-(ktub)||ti-(ktub)-u||? [a]-(ktub)||[a]-(ktub)-u|
|feminine||? (katab)-at||? ti-(ktub)|
While present progressive and future are indicated by adding the prefix (b-) and (?-) respectively to the present (indicative) :
|Tense/Mood||Present Progressive "writing"||Future "will write"|
|1st||? or ba-a-(ktub)||bi-ni-(ktub)||? or ?a-a-(ktub)||?a-ni-(ktub)|
|2nd||masculine||bi-ti-(ktub)||? bi-ti-(ktub)-u||?a-ti-(ktub)||? ?a-ti-(ktub)-u|
|3rd||masculine||bi-yi-(ktub)||? bi-yi-(ktub)-u||?a-yi-(ktub)||? ?a-yi-(ktub)-u|
Example: katabt/aktub "write": non-finite forms
|Number/Gender||Active Participle||? Passive Participle||? Verbal Noun|
|Masc. Sg.||k?tib ?||makt?b||kit?ba|
Active participles act as adjectives, and so they must agree with their subject. An active participle can be used in several ways:
Enclitic forms of object pronouns are suffixes that are affixed to various parts of speech, with varying meanings:
Unlike Egyptian Arabic, in Hejazi no more than one pronoun can be suffixed to a word.
Hejazi is written using the Arabic alphabet; like other varieties of Arabic, Hejazi does not have a standard form of writing and mostly follows Classical Arabic rules of writing. In general people alternate between writing the words according to their etymology or the phoneme used while pronouncing them, which mainly has an effect on the three letters ⟨?⟩ ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩, for example writing ? instead of ? or instead of although this alternation in writing is not considered acceptable by all Hejazi speakers.
Another alternation which is more likely to appear happens when writing words that end in a short vowel /a, u, i/, the writer would choose whether to add a vowel letter ⟨?⟩ ⟨?⟩ or ⟨?⟩ at the end of the word as in ? /inti/ ('you' singular feminine) to differentiate it from /inta/ ('you' singular masculine), or use the Classical form which can be pronounced /inta/ or /inti/, this happens since most word-final short vowels from the Classical Arabic period have been omitted and most word-final unstressed long vowel letters have been shortened in Hejazi. In Arabic handwriting of everyday use, in general publications, and on street signs, short vowels are typically not written, and when needed to be written they are written in a form of diacritics; above the letter for /a/, above the letter for /u/, under the letter for /i/.
The table below shows the Arabic alphabet letters and their corresponding phonemes in Hejazi:
|?||(see ⟨?⟩ Hamza).||"he asked"||/sa?al/|
|only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's an )||"we saw", ( m. "this")||/'?ufna/, (/'da:/ or /'ða:/)|
|additional ? silent word-final only in plural verbs and after nunation||"they said", "thanks"||/ga:lu/, /?ukran/|
|either , merging with ⟨?⟩||or always/in some words as||? "thick"||/taxi:n/ or /?axi:n/|
|or less likely , merging with ⟨?⟩||? "example"||/misa:l/ or /mi?a:l/|
|either , merging with ⟨?⟩||or always/in some words as||"tail"||/de:l/ or /ðe:l/|
|or , merging with ⟨?⟩||"taste"||/zo:g/ or /ðo:g/|
|either , merging with ⟨?⟩||or always/in some words as [ð?]||"shade"||/d?il:/ or [ðl:]|
|or (distinct phoneme)||? "moment"||/la?z?a/ or [la?ð?a]|
|?||(marginal phoneme only in the word ? and words derived from it)||"meat", (? "god")||/la?am/, (/a?:a:h/)|
|(silent when word-final in 3rd person masculine singular pronouns and some words)||"air", ( "his book", "we saw him")||/hawa/, (/kita:bu/, /?uf'na:/)|
|only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's either or )||"asthma", ( "is not", "they came")||/'rabu/, (/'mu:/, /'do:/)|
|only when word-final and unstressed (when word-final and stressed it's either or )||"saudi", ( f. "this")||/su'?u:di/, (/'di:/ or /'ði:/)|
|Additional non-native letters|
|?||(can be written and/or pronounced as a ⟨?⟩ depending on the speaker)||~ "Paul"||/po:l/ ~ /bo:l/|
|?||(can be written and/or pronounced as a ⟨?⟩ depending on the speaker)||~ "virus"||/vajru:s/ ~ /fajru:s/|
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 ⟨?⟩ /k/ as a ⟨?⟩ /?/ (e.g. ? /takðib/ becomes ? /ta?ðib/), the dialect also shows a tendency to pronounce long /a:/ as (e.g. Classical /ma:?/ becomes [me:?]), in some instances the Classical /q/ becomes a as in /qa:jla/ becomes /da:jla/, also the second person singular feminine pronoun /ik/ tends to be pronounced as /i?/ (e.g. ? /ridlik/ ('your foot') becomes ? /ridli?/.
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 ? /su?a:l/ which is pronounced as ? /su?a:l/, it also shares some features with the general urban dialect in which modern standard Arabic /?al:a:da/ is pronounced /tal:a:da/, another unique feature of the dialect is its similarity to the Arabic dialects of Bahrain.