Najdi Arabic
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Najdi Arabic

Najdi Arabic (Arabic: ?‎) is the group of Arabic varieties originating from the Najd region of Saudi Arabia. As a result of migration, several regions outside of Najd, including Eastern, Al Jawf, Najran, and Northern Borders Regions are now mostly Najdi-speaking. Outside of Saudi Arabia, it is also the main Arabic variety spoken in the Syrian Desert of Iraq, Jordan, and Syria (with the exception of Palmyra oasis and settlements dotting the Euphrates, where Mesopotamian Arabic is spoken) as well as the westernmost part of Kuwait.

Najdi Arabic can be divided into four region-based groups:

  1. Northern Najdi, spoken in Ha'il Region and Al-Qassim Region in the Najd.[3][4]
  2. Mixed northern-central Najdi of Al-Qassim[4][5]
  3. Central Najdi (Urban Najdi), spoken in the city of Riyadh and surrounding towns and farming communities.[4][3]
  4. Southern Najdi, spoken in the city of Al-Kharj and surrounding towns, and in the Rub' al-Khali.[4]



Here is a table of the consonant sounds of Najdi Arabic. The phonemes /p/ ??? and /v/ ??? (not used by all speakers) are not considered to be part of the phonemic inventory, as they exist only in foreign words and can be pronounced as /b/ and /f/ respectively depending on the speaker.[6]

Phonetic notes:

  • /?/ is the modern reflex of Classical /q/?⟩, though /q/ can appear in a few loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic and proper names, as in [alqur'?a:n] ('Quran') and [qa:nu:n] ('law').[8]
  • The distinction between the Classical Arabic ⟨?⟩ and ⟨?⟩ was completely lost in Najdi Arabic, and both are realised as /ð?/.[9]/t?/ is sometimes voiced.[7]
  • As in many other the marginal phoneme only occurs in the word ? /a?:a:h/ ('god') and words derived from it,[] it contrasts with /l/ in /wa?:a/ ('I swear') vs. /wal:a/ ('or'), but it occurs as an allophone of in many other contexts, especially when neighboring the phonemes /?, x, s?, t?/ e.g. ('pencil') /?alam/->[?a?am].[]
  • The phonemes /?/?⟩ and /x/?⟩ can be realised as uvular fricatives and respectively.
  • Northern and central dialects feature affricates [t?s] and [d?z] as allophonic variants of the velar stops /k/ and /?/, respectively, particularly in the context of front vowels e.g. [t?salb] ('dog').[10][9][11] Dialect leveling as a result of influence from the Riyadh-based prestige varieties has led to the affricate allophones becoming increasingly less common among younger speakers.[11]
  • Historically, /?/ was deleted. It now appears only in borrowings from Classical Arabic; word-medially, this deletion comes along with the lengthening of short vowels.[12]


Vowels of Najdi Arabic[13][14]
Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close ? i: ? u:
Mid e: o:
Open a a:

Unless adjacent to /? x h ? ?/, /a/ is raised in open syllables to [i], [?], or [u], depending on neighboring sounds.[15] Remaining /a/ may become fronted to [æ~?] in the context of front sounds, as well as adjacent to the pharyngeals /? ?/.[16]

Najdi Arabic exhibits the so-called gahawa syndrome, insertion of epenthetic /a/ after (/h x, ? ?, ?/). For example, [gahwah] > [gahawah].

When short /a/ appears in an open syllable that is followed by a nonfinal light syllable, it is deleted. For example, /sa?ab-at/ is realized as [s'?a.bat].[17] This, combined with the gahawa syndrome can make underlying sequence of /a/ and a following guttural consonant (/h x, ? ?, ?/) to appear metathesized, e.g. /?istaal/ ('got in a hurry') [?ist'?a?al].[18]

Short high vowels are deleted in non-final open syllables, such as /tirsil-u:n/ ('you [m. sg.] send') [tirs'lu:n].[19]

There is both limited distributional overlap and free variation between [i] and [u], with the latter being more likely in the environment of bilabials, pharyngealized consonants, and /r/.[7]

The mid vowels /e: o:/ are typically monophthongs, though they can be pronounced as diphthongs when preceding a plosive, e.g. /be:t/ ('house') [beit].[16][ei]


Najdi Arabic sentence structure can have the word order VSO and SVO, however, VSO usually occurs more often.Ingham (1994:37-44) NA morphology is distinguished by three categories which are: nouns ism, verb fial, and particle harf. Ism means name in Arabic and it corresponds to nouns and adjectives in English. Fial means action in Arabic and it corresponds to verbs. Harf means letter and corresponds to pronouns, demonstratives, prepositions, conjunctions and articles.

Verbs are inflected for number, gender, person, tense, aspect and transitives. Nouns shows number (singular and plural) and gender (masculine and feminine). [20]

Complementizers in NA have three different classes which are: relative particle, declarative particle, and interrogative particles. The three different complementizers that are used in Najdi Arabic are: illi, in, itha.[21]


Two particles are used in negation, which are: ma and la. These particles come before the verb in verbal sentences.Ingham (1994:37-44) ma is used with all verbal sentences but la is used with imperative verb forms indicating present and future tense.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Arabic, Najdi Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Najdi Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b Ingham (1986), p. 274.
  4. ^ a b c d Al Motairi (2015), p. 4.
  5. ^ Ingham (1994), p. 5.
  6. ^ Al Motairi (2015:5)
  7. ^ a b c Ingham (1994), p. 14.
  8. ^ a b Al Motairi (2015), p. 6.
  9. ^ a b Al Motairi (2015), p. 7.
  10. ^ Ingham (1986), p. 274, 278.
  11. ^ a b Al-Rojaie (2013), p. 46.
  12. ^ Ingham (1994), p. 13.
  13. ^ INgham (1994), p. 15.
  14. ^ Al Motairi (2015), p. 8.
  15. ^ McCarthy (2007:177, 178), citing Al-Mozainy (1981:64ff)
  16. ^ a b Ingham (1994), p. 15.
  17. ^ McCarthy (2007), pp. 181.
  18. ^ McCarthy (2007), pp. 205.
  19. ^ McCarthy (2007), pp. 187.
  20. ^ a b Alothman, Ebtesam (2012). "Digital Vernaculars: An Investigation of Najdi Arabic in Multilingual Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication" (PDF). University of Manchester: 96-121.
  21. ^ Lewis Jr., Robert (2013). "Complementizer Agreement in Najdi Arabic" (PDF). University of Kansas: 22.


Further reading

  • P.F. Abboud. 1964. "The Syntax of Najdi Arabic", University of Texas PhD dissertation.
  • Al-Mozainy, Hamza Q (1981). Vowel Alternations in a Bedouin Hijazi Arabic Dialect: Abstractness and Stress (Thesis). Austin, Texas: University of Texas, Austin.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

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