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Baghdad Arabic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baghdad Arabic or the Baghdadi Arabic is the Arabic dialect spoken in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. During the last century, Baghdad Arabic has become the lingua franca of Iraq, and the language of commerce and education. It is a subvariety of Mesopotamian Arabic.

An interesting sociolinguistic feature of Baghdadi Arabic is the existence of three distinct dialects: Muslim, Jewish and Christian Baghdadi Arabic. Muslim Baghdadi belongs to a group called gilit dialects, while Jewish Baghdadi (as well as Christian Baghdadi) belongs to qeltu dialects.

Baghdadi gilit Arabic, which is considered the standard Baghdadi Arabic, shares many features with varieties spoken in some parts of eastern Syria. Gilit Arabic is of Bedouin provenance, unlike Christian and Jewish Baghdadi, which is believed to be descendant of Medieval Iraqi Arabic. Until the 1950s Baghdad Arabic contained a large inventory of borrowings from English, Turkish, Persian or Kurdish language. The inclusion of Mongolian and other Turkic elements in the Baghdad Iraqi Arabic dialect should also be mentioned, because of the political role a succession of Mongol-Turkic dynasties played in Iraqi history after Baghdad was invaded by Mongol-Turkic colonizers in 1258 that made Iraq became part of Ilkhanate.

During the first decades of the 20th century, when the population of Baghdad was less than a million, some inner city quarters had their own distinctive speech characteristics, maintained for generations. From about the 1960s, with the population movement within the city, and the influx of large numbers of people hailing mainly from the south, Baghdad Arabic has become more standardized, and has come to incorporate some rural Bedouin features and Modern Standard Arabic loanwords.

Distinct features of Muslim Baghdadi Arabic include the use of 'ani' as opposed to the fusha 'ana' meaning 'I am' and the addition of the suffix 'ich' to verbs with female direct objects, e.g. 'ani gilitlich' meaning 'I told you' whereas maslawis would say: 'ana qeltolki'.

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  • ✪ Museum für Islamische Kunst | Early Capitals of Islamic Culture | Legacy of Abbasid Baghdad(Arabic)





In speakers with a thicker accent, /ɛ/ will be diphthongised as /iɛ/. So, for instance, the word "lesh" (why) in standard Arabic will be pronounced as "li-yesh".


Even in the most formal of conventions, pronunciation depends upon a speaker's background.[1] Nevertheless, the number and phonetic character of most of the 28 consonants has a broad degree of regularity among Arabic-speaking regions. Note that Arabic is particularly rich in uvular, pharyngeal, and pharyngealized ("emphatic") sounds. The emphatic coronals (/sˤ/, /dˤ/, /tˤ/, and /ðˤ/) cause assimilation of emphasis to adjacent non-emphatic coronal consonants.[citation needed] 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.[2][3]

Baghdadi Arabic consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic1
Nasal m n
Stop/Affricate voiceless (p) t t͡ʃ k ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ g
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ~ χ ħ h
voiced (v) ð z ðˤ ɣ ~ ʁ ʕ
Tap ɾ
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

Phonetic notes:

  • /p/ and /v/ occur mostly in borrowings from Persian, and may be assimilated to /b/ or /f/ in some speakers.
  • /ɡ/ is pronunciation of /q/ in Baghdad Arabic and the rest of southern Mesopotamian dialects.
  • The gemination of the flap /ɾ/ results in a trill /r/.

See also


  • Kees Versteegh, et al. Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, BRILL, 2006.
  • Abū-Haidar, Farīda (1991). Christian Arabic of Baghdad. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 9783447032094.
  1. ^ Holes (2004:58)
  2. ^ Teach Yourself Arabic, by Jack Smart (Author), Frances Altorfer (Author)
  3. ^ Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (transl. of Arabisches Wörterbuch für die Schriftsprache der Gegenwart, 1952)

This page was last edited on 26 April 2019, at 07:25
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