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Hejazi Arabic
PronunciationHejazi Arabic pronunciation: [ħɪˈ(d)ʒaːzi]
Native toSaudi Arabia (Hejaz region)
Speakers11 million (2018)[1]
Early form
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3acw
Extent of Hejazi Arabic
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Hejazi Arabic or Hijazi Arabic (HA) (Arabic: حجازي, romanizedḥijāzī, Hejazi Arabic pronunciation: [ħɪˈdʒaːzi]), 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,[2] one by the urban population, originally spoken mainly in the cities of Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and partially in Ta'if and another dialect by the urbanized rural and bedouin populations.[3] 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 recorded in the consonantal text of the Qur'an. 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.


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 ض and ظ is generally retained.

Innovative features

  1. The present progressive tense is marked by the prefix بـ /b/ or قاعد /gaːʕid/ or جالس /d͡ʒaːlis/ as in بيدرس /bijidrus/ or قاعد يدرس /gaːʕid jidrus/ or جالس يدرس /d͡ʒaːlis jidrus/ ("he is studying").
  2. The future tense is marked by the prefix حـ /ħa/ as in حيدرس /ħajidrus/ ("he will study").[4]
  3. the internal passive form, which in Hejazi, is replaced by the pattern (اَنْفَعَل /anfaʕal/, يِنْفَعِل /jinfaʕil/) or (اَتْفَعَل /atfaʕal/, يِتْفَعِل /jitfaʕil/).[5]
  4. Loss of the final /h/ sound in the 3rd person masculine singular pronoun ـه. For example, بيته /beːtu/ ("his house"), أعرفه /aʕrifu/ ("I know him"), قالوه /gaːˈloː/ ("they said it"), عليه /ʕaˈleː/ ("on him") and شفناه /ʃufˈnaː/ ("we saw him") vs. شفنا /ʃufna/ ("we saw") .
  5. loss of gender-specificity in numbers except for the number "one" which is واحد m. /waːħid/ and وحدة f. /waħda/.
  6. The pronunciation of the interdental letters ث ,ذ, and ظ. (See Hejazi Arabic Phonology)
  7. loss of gender-specificity in plural verb forms, e.g. يركبوا /jirkabu/ instead of masculine يركبون /jarkabuːna/ and feminine يركبن /jarkabna/.
  8. loss of gender-specificity in plural adjectives, e.g. طفشانين /tˤafʃaːniːn/ "bored" can be used to describe both feminine and masculine plural nouns.
  9. The verb forms V, VI and IIQ have an additional initial ا /a/, e.g. اتْكَسّر /atkasːar/ "it shattered" (V), اتْعامَلَت /atʕaːmalat/ "she worked" (VI) and اتْفَلْسَفوا /atfalsafu/ "they babbled" (IIQ).
Approximate distribution of Arabic language around the 1st century in Hejaz and Najd

Conservative features

  1. Hejazi Arabic does not employ double negation, nor does it append the negation particles -sh to negate verbs: Hejazi ما أَعْرِف /maː aʕrif/ ("I don't know"), as opposed to Egyptian معرفش /maʕrafʃ/ and Palestinian بعرفش /baʕrafiʃ/.
  2. The habitual present tense is not marked by any prefixes as in يِدْرُس /jidrus/ ("he studies") and أحبك /ʔaħːubːik/ ("I love you"), as opposed to Egyptian بيدرس /bijidrus/ and بحبك /baħːibːik/.
  3. The prohibitive mood of Classical Arabic is preserved in the imperative: لا تروح /laː tiruːħ/ ("don't go").
  4. The possessive suffixes are generally preserved in their Classical forms. For example, بيتكم /beːtakum/ "your (pl) house".
  5. The plural first person pronoun is نِحْنَ /niħna/ or إحنا /iħna/, as opposed to حنّا /ħənna/ or إنّا /ənna/.
  6. When indicating a location, the preposition في /fi/ (also written as a prefix فِـ) is preferred to بـ /b/ as in في المدينة or فالمدينة /fil.madiːna/ ("in Medina").
  7. The pronunciation of the ض is /dˤ/ as in Modern Standard Arabic as in الرياض /ar.rijaːdˤ/ ("Riyadh").
  8. The hamzated verbs like أخذ /ʔaxad/ and أكل /ʔakal/ keep their classical form as opposed to خذا /xaða/ and كلى /kala/.
  9. The use of /u/ in form 1 verbs is retained as in قُلْت [gʊlt], شُفْت [ʃʊft] and نُطْق [nʊtˤg] as opposed to [gəlt], [ʃəft] and [nətˤg] in Najdi and Gulf dialects.
  10. The glottal stop can be added to final syllables ending in a vowel as a way of emphasising.
  11. the definite article الـ is always pronounced /al/ as opposed to Egyptian or Kuwaiti /il/ and the final ـة is always pronounced /a/.
  12. Compared to neighboring dialects, urban Hejazi retains most of the short vowels of Classical Arabic with no vowel reduction or ghawa syndrome, for example:
سَمَكَة / ("fish"), as opposed to [sməka],
ضَرَبَتُه /dˤ ("she hit him"), as opposed to [ðˤrabətah].
وَلَدُه / ("his son"), as opposed to [wlədah].
عَلَيَّ /ʕːa/ ("on me"), as opposed to [ʕalaj].
جيبَنَا /d͡ʒeː ("our pocket") and عيلَتِي /ʕeː.la.ti/ ("my family"), as opposed to Najdi [d͡ʒeːbna] and [ʕeːlti] and Egyptian [gebna] and [ʕelti].
عِنْدَكُم /ʕin.da.kum/ ("in your possession" pl.), as opposed to Najdi [ʕəndəkum], Egyptian [ʕandoku], and Levantine [ʕandkon].


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,[6] 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.[7]

Urban 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 given its development in the historical cities of Jeddah, Medina and Mecca in proximity to the bedouin tribes that lived on the outskirts of these cities, in addition to a minimal influence in vocabulary from other urban Arabic dialects and Modern Standard Arabic, and more recently the influence of the other dialects of Saudi Arabia, all of which made Urban Hejazi a dialect that is distinctly unique but close to peninsular dialects on one hand and urban Arabic dialects on the other.

Historically, it is not well-known in which stage of Arabic the shift from the Proto-Semitic pair /q/ qāf and /g/ gīm came to be Hejazi /g, d͡ʒ/ gāf and jīm ج, ق, although it has been attested as early as the eighth century CE, and it can be explained by a chain shift /q/* → /g//d͡ʒ/[8] that occurred in one of two ways:

  1. Drag Chain: Proto-Semitic gīm /g/ palatalized to Hejazi jīm /d͡ʒ/ first, opening up a space at the position of [g], which qāf /q/* then moved to fill the empty space resulting in Hejazi gāf /g/, restoring structural symmetrical relationships present in the pre-Arabic system.[9][10]
  2. Push Chain: Proto-Semitic qāf /q/* changed to Hejazi gāf /g/ first, which resulted in pushing the original gīm /g/ forward in articulation to become Hejazi jīm /d͡ʒ/, but since most modern qāf dialects as well as standard Arabic also have jīm, then the push-chain of qāf to gāf first can be discredited,[11] although there are good grounds for believing that old Arabic qāf had both voiced [g] and voiceless [q] as allophones; and later on the gīm /g/ was fronted to jīm /d͡ʒ/, possibly as a result of pressure from the allophones.[12]

* The original value of Proto-Semitic qāf was probably an emphatic [] not [q].

The development of /q/ to /g/ have also been observed in languages like Azeri in which the Old Turkic [q] is pronounced as a velar [g]; e.g. قال / qal 'to stay, remain' is pronounced /ɡal/, rather than /kal/ as in Turkish or /qal/ in Bashkir, Uyghur, Kazakh, etc.[13]


Main article: Hejazi Arabic phonology

In general, Hejazi native phonemic inventory consists of 26 (with no interdental /θ, ð/) to 28 consonant phonemes depending on the speaker's preference, in addition to the marginal phoneme /ɫ/. Furthermore, it has an eight-vowel system, consisting of three short and five long vowels /a, u, i, aː, uː, oː, iː, eː/.[14][15] Consonant length and Vowel length are both distinctive and being a Semitic language the four emphatic consonants /sˤ, dˤ, tˤ, zˤ/ are treated as separate phonemes from their plain counterparts.[16]

The main phonological feature that differentiates urban Hejazi from other peninsular dialects in regards to consonants; is the pronunciation of the letters ث ,ذ, and ظ (see Hejazi Phonology) and the pronunciation of ض /dˤ/ as in Standard Arabic. Another differential feature is the lack of palatalization for the letters ك /k/, ق /g/ and ج /d͡ʒ/, unlike in other peninsular dialects where they can be palatalized in certain positions[17] e.g. Hejazi جديد 'new' [d͡ʒadiːd] vs. Gulf Arabic [jɪdiːd] and Hejazi عندك 'with you' [ʕɪn.dɪk] vs. traditional Najdi [ʕən.dət͡s].

The marginal /ɫ/ is only used in the word الله 'God' /aɫːaːh/ (except when it follows an /i/ as in بسمِ الله /bismilːaːh/) and in words derived from it, It contrasts with /l/ in والله 'I swear' /waɫːa/ vs. ولَّا 'or' /walːa/. Unlike other neighboring dialects; /l/ is not velarized in certain positions, as in عقل 'brain' pronounced with a light Lām [ʕa.ɡɪl] in Hejazi and velarized one [ʕa.ɡəɫ] in other peninsular Arabic dialects. Two additional foreign sounds /p/پ⟩ and /v/ڤ⟩ are used by a number of speakers while many substitute them with /b/ب⟩ and /f/ف⟩ respectively, in general /v/ is more integrated and used by more speakers than /p/.

A conservative feature that Hejazi holds is the constant use of full vowels and the absence of vowel reduction, for example قلنا لهم 'we told them', is pronounced [gʊlnaːlahʊm] in Hejazi with full vowels but pronounced with the reduced vowel [ə] as [gəlnaːləhəm] in Najdi and Gulf Arabic, in addition to that, the absence of initial consonant cluster (known as the ghawa syndrome) as in بَقَرة 'cow', قَهْوة 'coffee', نِعْرِف 'we know' and سِمْعَت 'she heard' which are pronounced [bagara], [gahwa], [nɪʕrɪf] and [sɪmʕat] respectively in Hejazi but [bgara], [ghawa], [nʕarɪf] and [smaʕat] in other peninsular dialects.


Consonant phonemes of Hejazi
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Occlusive voiceless t k ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ħ h
voiced ð z ðˤ ɣ ʕ
Trill r
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

Phonetic notes:


Hejazi Arabic vowel chart, from Abdoh (2010:84)
Vowel phonemes of Hejazi
Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close i u
Open a

Phonetic notes:


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 /eː/ and /oː/ respectively, but they are still preserved as diphthongs in a number of words which created a contrast with the long vowels /uː/, /oː/, /iː/ and /eː/.

Example (without diacritics) Meaning Hejazi Arabic Modern Standard Arabic
دوري league /dawri/ /dawri/
my turn /doːri/
turn around! /duːri/ /duːri/
search! /dawːiri/ /dawːiri/

Not all instances of mid vowels are a result of monophthongization, some are from grammatical processes قالوا /gaːlu/ 'they said' → قالوا لها /gaːllaha/ 'they said to her' (opposed to Classical Arabic قالوا لها /qaːl lahaː/), and some occur in modern Portmanteau words e.g. ليش /leːʃ/ 'why?' (from Classical Arabic لأي /liʔaj/ 'for what' and شيء /ʃajʔ/ '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 uncommon and they are mainly of French, Italian, Persian, Turkish and most recently of English origins, and due to the diverse origins of the inhabitants of Hejazi cities, some loanwords are used by only some families. Some old loanwords are fading or became obsolete due to the influence of Modern Standard Arabic and their association with lower social class and education,[18] e.g. كنديشن /kunˈdeːʃan/ "air conditioner" (from English Condition) was replaced by Standard Arabic مكيّف /mukajːif/.

Most of the loanwords tend to be nouns e.g. ‏بسكليتة/buskuleːta/ "Bicycle", ‏بلكونة/balaˈkoːna/ "balcony" and ‏قمبري/gambari/ "shrimp", and sometimes with a change of meaning as in: ‏كبري/kubri/ "overpass" from Turkish köprü originally meaning "bridge" and وَايْت /waːjt/ "water tanker truck" from English white and ‏جَزْمَة/d͡ʒazma/ "shoe" from Turkish çizme originally meaning "boot", loaned verbs which are less common include ‏هَكَّر/hakːar/ "to hack" from English "hack" and ‏نَرْفَز/narfaz/ "to agitate" from French "nerveux" or English "nervous".

Words that are distinctly of Hejazi origin include دحين /daħiːn/ or /daħeːn/ "now", إيوه /(ʔ)iːwa/ "yes", إيش /ʔeːʃ/ "what?", أبغى /ʔabɣa/ "I want", ديس /deːs/ "breast" (used with the more formal صدر /sˤadir/), فهيقة /fuheːga/ "hiccup", and قد /ɡid/ or قيد /ɡiːd/ "already",[19] Other general vocabulary includes ندر /nadar/ "to leave" with its synonyms خرج /xarad͡ʒ/ and طلع /tˤiliʕ/, زهم /zaham/ "to call over" with its synonym نادى /naːda/ and بالتوفيق /bitːawfiːg/ "good luck". (see vocabulary list)


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[20]

numbers 1-10 IPA 11-20 IPA 10s IPA 100s IPA
1 واحد /waːħid/ 11 احدعش /iħdaʕaʃ/ 10 عشرة /ʕaʃara/ 100 مية /mijːa/
2 اتنين /itneːn/ or /iθneːn/ 12 اتطنعش /itˤnaʕaʃ/ or /iθnaʕaʃ/ 20 عشرين /ʕiʃriːn/ 200 ميتين /mijteːn/ or /mijːateːn/
3 تلاتة /talaːta/ or /θalaːθa/ 13 تلتطعش /talat.tˤaʕaʃ/ or /θalaθ.tˤaʕaʃ/ 30 تلاتين /talaːtiːn/ or /θalaːθiːn/ 300 تلتميَّة /tultumijːa/ or /θulθumijːa/
4 أربعة /arbaʕa/ 14 أربعطعش /arbaʕ.tˤaʕaʃ/ 40 أربعين /arbiʕiːn/ 400 أربعميَّة /urbuʕmijːa/
5 خمسة /xamsa/ 15 خمسطعش /xamis.tˤaʕaʃ/ or /xamas.tˤaʕaʃ/ 50 خمسين /xamsiːn/ 500 خمسميَّة /xumsumijːa/
6 ستة /sitːa/ 16 ستطعش /sit.tˤaʕaʃ/ 60 ستين /sitːiːn/ 600 ستميَّة /sutːumijːa/
7 سبعة /sabʕa/ 17 سبعطعش /sabaʕ.tˤaʕaʃ/ 70 سبعين /sabʕiːn/ 700 سبعميَّة /subʕumijːa/
8 تمنية /tamanja/ or /θamanja/ 18 تمنطعش /taman.tˤaʕaʃ/ or /θaman.tˤaʕaʃ/ 80 تمانين /tamaːniːn/ or /θamaːniːn/ 800 تمنميَّة /tumnumijːa/ or /θumnumijːa/
9 تسعة /tisʕa/ 19 تسعطعش /tisaʕ.tˤaʕaʃ/ 90 تسعين /tisʕiːn/ 900 تسعميَّة /tusʕumijːa/
10 عشرة /ʕaʃara/ 20 عشرين /ʕiʃriːn/ 100 ميَّة /mijːa/ 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 ثمانين /urbuʕmijːa u xamsa u tamaːniːn/ 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 واحد m. and وحدة f. as in كتاب واحد /kitaːb waːħid/ ('one book') or سيارة وحدة /sajːaːra waħda/ ('one car'), with كتاب being a masculine noun and سيّارة a feminine noun.


Subject pronouns

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. The negative articles include لا /laː/ as in لا تكتب /laː tiktub/ ('do not write!'), ما /maː/ as in ما بيتكلم /maː bijitkalːam/ ('he is not talking') and مو /muː/ as in مو كذا /muː kida/ ('not like this')


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, or even 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', ʼ-k-l 'to eat'. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as :

Hejazi has two grammatical number in verbs (Singular and Plural) instead of the Classical (Singular, Dual and Plural), in addition to a present progressive tense which was not part of the Classical Arabic grammar. In contrast to other urban dialects the prefix (b-) is used only for present continuous as in بِيِكْتُب /bijiktub/ "he is writing" while the habitual tense is without a prefix as in أَحُبِّك /ʔaħubbik/ "I love you" f. unlike بحبِّك in Egyptian and Levantine dialects and the future tense is indicated by the prefix (ħa-) as in حَنِجْري /ħanid͡ʒri/ "we will run".

Regular verbs

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:[21]

Vowel patterns Example
Past Present
a a raħam رحم he forgave – yirħam يرحم he forgives
a u ḍarab ضرب he hit – yiḍrub يضرب he hits
a i ġasal غسل he washed – yiġsil يغسل he washes
i a fihim فهم he understood – yifham يفهم he understands
i i ʕirif عرف he knew – yiʕrif يعرف he knows

According to Arab grammarians, verbs are divided into three categories; Past ماضي, Present مضارع and Imperative أمر. An example from the root k-t-b the verb katabt/ʼaktub 'i wrote/i write' (which is a regular sound verb):

Verb Example (ك ت ب) (k t b) "to write"
Tense/Mood Past "wrote" Present (Indicative) "write" Imperative "write!"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st كتبت (katab)-t كتبنا (katab)-na أكتب ʼa-(ktub) نكتب ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine كتبت (katab)-t كتبتوا (katab)-tu تكتب ti-(ktub) تكتبوا ti-(ktub)-u أكتب [a]-(ktub) أكتبوا [a]-(ktub)-u
feminine كتبتي (katab)-ti تكتبي ti-(ktub)-i أكتبي [a]-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine كتب (katab) كتبوا (katab)-u يكتب yi-(ktub) يكتبوا yi-(ktub)-u
feminine كتبت (katab)-at تكتب ti-(ktub)

While present progressive and future are indicated by adding the prefix (b-) and (ħa-) respectively to the present (indicative) :

Tense/Mood Present Progressive "writing" Future "will write"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st بكتب or بأكتب ba-a-(ktub) بنكتب bi-ni-(ktub) حكتب or حأكتب ħa-a-(ktub) حنكتب ħa-ni-(ktub)
2nd masculine بتكتب bi-ti-(ktub) بتكتبوا bi-ti-(ktub)-u حتكتب ħa-ti-(ktub) حتكتبوا ħa-ti-(ktub)-u
feminine بتكتبي bi-ti-(ktub)-i حتكتبي ħa-ti-(ktub)-i
3rd masculine بيكتب bi-yi-(ktub) بيكتبوا bi-yi-(ktub)-u حيكتب ħa-yi-(ktub) حيكتبوا ħa-yi-(ktub)-u
feminine بتكتب bi-ti-(ktub) حتكتب ħa-ti-(ktub)

Example: katabt/aktub "write": non-finite forms

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

Passive Voice

The passive voice is expressed through two patterns; (اَنْفَعَل /anfaʕal/, يِنْفَعِل /jinfaʕil/) or (اَتْفَعَل /atfaʕal/, يِتْفَعِل /jitfaʕil/), while most verbs can take either pattern as in أتكتب /atkatab/ or أنكتب /ankatab/ "it was written" and يتكتب /jitkatib/ or ينكتب /jinkatib/ "it is being written", other verbs can only have one of the two patterns as in اتوقف /atwagːaf/ "he was stopped" and يتوقف /jitwagːaf/ "he is being stopped".


In Hejazi, adjectives, demonstratives and verbs fully agree in gender and number,[22] e.g. ولد كبير /walad kabiːr/ "big boy" and بنت كبيرة /bint kabiːra/ "big girl". But there are two exceptions;[23] First, there is no agreement in dual number; e.g. بنتين /binteːn/ "two girls" takes the plural adjective as in بنتين كبار /binteːn kubaːr/ "two big girls". Second, and more importantly, gender agreement is syncretic in the plural, in which inanimate plural nouns take a feminine singular adjective e.g. سيارات كبيرة /sajːaːraːt kabiːra/ "big cars" instead of the plural adjective, while animate plural nouns take the plural adjective as in بنات كبار /banaːt kubaːr/ "big girls". The plural feminine adjective كبيرات /kabiːraːt/ can be used as well but it is rather archaic.

Adjective Example "big"
Number/Gender Adjective Usage notes
Masc. Sg. kabīr كبير with singular masculine nouns
Fem. Sg. kabīra كبيرة with singular feminine and inanimate plural nouns
Common Pl. kubār كبار or kabīrīn كبيرين with dual (masculine or feminine) and animate plural (masculine or feminine) nouns


Enclitic pronouns

Enclitic forms of personal 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.

General Modifications:-

Hollow Verbs vowel shortening

Medial vowel shortening occurs in Hollow verbs (verbs with medial vowels ā, ū, ō, ē, ī) when added to Indirect object pronouns:[25]

Hollow Verb (ر و ح) (r w ḥ) "to go"
Tense/Mood Past "went" (ruḥ) Present (Indicative) "goes" (rūḥ) Imperative "go!" (rūḥ)
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st رحت ruḥt رحنا ruḥna أروح ʼarū نروح nirū
2nd masculine رحت ruḥt رحتوا ruḥtu تروح tirū تروحوا tirūḥu روح rū روحوا rūḥu
feminine رحتي ruḥti تروحي tirūḥi روحي rūḥi
3rd masculine راح rā راحوا rāḥu يروح yirū يروحوا yirūḥu
feminine راحت rāḥat تروح tirū
Hollow Verb + Indirect Object Pronoun (-lu)
Tense/Mood Past "went" Present (Indicative) "goes" Imperative "go!"
Person Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st رحت له ruḥt-allu رحنا له ruḥnā-lu أرح له or أروح له ʼaruḥ-lu نرح له or نروح له niru-lu
2nd masculine رحت له ruḥt-allu رحتوا له ruḥtū-lu ترح له or تروح له tiruḥ-lu تروحوا له tirūḥū-lu رح له or روح له ruḥ-lu روحوا له rūḥū-lu
feminine رحتي له ruḥtī-lu تروحي له tirūḥī-lu روحي له rūḥī-lu
3rd masculine راح له raḥ-lu راحوا له rāḥō-lu يرح له or يروح له yiruḥ-lu يروحوا له yirūḥū-lu
feminine راحت له rāḥat-lu ترح له or تروح له tiruḥ-lu

Writing system

Hejazi does not have a standardized form of writing and mostly follows Classical Arabic rules of writing.[26] The main difference between classical Arabic and Hejazi are the alternations of the Hamza, some verb forms and the final long vowels, this alternation happened since most word-final short vowels from the classical period have been omitted and most word-final unstressed long vowel have been shortened in Hejazi. Another alternation is writing the words according to the phoneme used while pronouncing them, rather than their etymology which mainly has an effect on the three letters ث ذ and ظ, for example writing تخين /taxiːn/ "thick, fat" instead of ثخين or ديل /deːl/ "tail" instead of ذيل although this alternation in writing is not considered acceptable by many or most Hejazi speakers. The alphabet still uses the same set of letters as Classical Arabic in addition to two letters ⟨پ/p/ and ⟨ڤ/v/ which are only used in writing loanwords and they can be substituted by ب /b/ and ف /f/ respectively depending on the writer, in addition to that the vowels /oː/ and /eː/ which were not part of the CA phonemic inventory are represented by the letters و and ي respectively.

Differences Between Classical and Hejazi writing

An Early Qur'anic manuscript written in Hejazi script (8th century AD)

Mistakes in Hejazi spelling

The table below shows the Arabic alphabet letters and their corresponding phonemes in Hejazi:

Letter Phonemes / Allophones (IPA) Example Pronunciation
ا /ʔ/ (see ⟨ء⟩ Hamza). سَأَل "he asked" /saʔal/
// باب "door", جا "he came" /baːb/, /ˈd͡ʒaː/
/a/ when word-final and unstressed شُفْنا "we saw" /ˈʃufna/
only when word-medial before indirect object pronouns e.g. لي ,له ,لها and some words قال لي "he told me", راح لَها "he went to her" /galːi/, /raħlaha/
additional ∅ silent word-final only in plural verbs and after nunation دِرْيُوا "they knew", شُكْرًا "thanks" /dirju/, /ʃukran/
ب /b/ بِسَّة "cat" /bisːa/
ت /t/ توت "berry" /tuːt/
ث /t/ or always / in some words as /θ/ ثَلْج "snow" /tald͡ʒ/ /θald͡ʒ/
/s/ ثابِت "stable" /saːbit/ /θaːbit/
ج /d͡ʒ/ جَوَّال "mobile phone" /d͡ʒawːaːl/
ح /ħ/ حوش "courtyard" /ħoːʃ/
خ /x/ خِرْقة "rag" /xirga/
د /d/ دولاب "closet" /doːˈlaːb/
ذ /d/ or always / in some words as /ð/ ذيل "tail" /deːl/ /ðeːl/
/z/ ذوق "taste" /zoːg/ /ðoːg/
ر /r/ رَمِل "sand" /ramil/
ز /z/ زُحْليقة "slide" /zuħleːga/
س /s/ سَقْف "roof" /sagf/
ش /ʃ/ شيوَل "loader" /ʃeːwal/
ص // صُفِّيرة "whistle" /sˤuˈfːeːra/
ض // ضِرْس "molar" /dˤirs/
ط // طُرْقة "corridor" /tˤurga/
ظ // or always / in some words as /ðˤ/ ظِل "shade" /dˤilː/ /ðˤilː/
// ظَرْف "envelope, case" /zˤarf/ /ðˤarf/
ع /ʕ/ عين "eye" /ʕeːn/
غ /ɣ/ غُراب "crow" /ɣuraːb/
ف /f/ فَم "mouth" /famː/
ق /g/ قَلْب "heart" /galb/
[q] an allophone in a number of words اِسْتِقْلال "independence" /istiglaːl/ [ɪstɪqlaːl]
ك /k/ كَلْب "dog" /kalb/
ل /l/ ليش؟ "why?" /leːʃ/
/ɫ/ a marginal phoneme only in the word الله and words derived from it الله "god" /aɫːaːh/
م /m/ مويَة "water" /moːja/
ن /n/ نَجَفة "chandelier" /nad͡ʒafa/
هـ /h/ هَوا "air" /hawa/
silent when word-final in 3rd person masculine singular pronouns and some words كِتابُه "his book", شافوه "they saw him" /kitaːbu/, /ʃaːˈfoː/
و /w/ وَرْدة "rose" /warda/
// فوق "wake up!", مو "is not" /fuːg/, /ˈmuː/
// فوق "above, up", جوا "they came" /foːg/, /ˈd͡ʒoː/
/u/ when word-final and unstressed رَبو "asthma" /ˈrabu/
only when word-medial before indirect object pronouns e.g. لي ,له ,لها روح لها "go to her" also written as رُح لها /ruħlaha/
ي /j/ يَد "hand" /jadː/
// بيض "whites pl.", ذي f. "this" /biːdˤ/, /ˈdiː/
// بيض "eggs", عليه "on him" /beːdˤ/, /ʕaˈleː/
/i/ when word-final and unstressed سُعُودي "saudi" /suˈʕuːdi/
only when word-medial before indirect object pronouns e.g. لي ,له ,لها تجيب لي "you bring me" also written as تِجِب لي /tid͡ʒibli/
Additional non-native letters
پ /p/ (can be written and/or pronounced as ب /b/ depending on the speaker) پيتزا or بيتزا "pizza" /biːtza/ /piːtza/
ڤ /v/ (can be written and/or pronounced as ف /f/ depending on the speaker) ڤَيْروس or فَيْروس "virus" /fajruːs/ /vajruːs/


Rural dialects

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 ك /k/ as a ش /ʃ/ (e.g. تكذب /takðib/ becomes تشذب /taʃðib/), the dialect also shows a tendency to pronounce long /aː/ as [] (e.g. Classical ماء /maːʔ/ becomes ميء [meːʔ]), in some instances the Classical /q/ becomes a /d͡ʒ/ as in قايلة /qaːjla/ becomes جايلة /d͡ʒaːjla/, also the second person singular feminine pronoun /ik/ tends to be pronounced as /iʃ/ (e.g. رجلك /rid͡ʒlik/ ('your foot') becomes رجلش /rid͡ʒliʃ/.[27]


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 سؤال /suʔaːl/ which is pronounced as سعال /suʕaːl/, it also shares some features with the general urban dialect in which modern standard Arabic ثلاجة /θalːaːd͡ʒa/ is pronounced تلاجة /talːaːd͡ʒa/, another unique feature of the dialect is its similarity to the Arabic dialects of Bahrain.

See also


  1. ^ Hejazi Arabic at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Alzaidi (2014:73) Information Structure and Intonation in Hijazi Arabic.
  3. ^ Il-Hazmy (1975:234)
  4. ^ Versteegh, Kees. The Arabic Language (PDF). p. 150.
  5. ^ Alqahtani, Fatimah; Sanderson, Mark (2015). "Generating a Lexicon for the Hijazi dialect of Arabic": 9. ISBN 9783030329594. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Watson, Janet (2002). The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic. Oxford university press. pp. 8, 9.
  7. ^ Lipinski (1997). Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. p. 75.
  8. ^ Cantineau, Jean (1960). Cours de phonétique arabe (in French). Paris, France: Libraire C. Klincksieck. p. 67.
  9. ^ Freeman, Aaron (2015). "The Linguistic Geography of Dorsal Consonants in Syria" (PDF). The Linguistic Geography of Dorsal Consonants in Syria. University of Pennsylvania.
  10. ^ Öhrnberg, Kaj (2013). "Travelling Through Time". Studia Orientalia 114: 524.
  11. ^ Heinrichs, Wolfhart. "Ibn Khaldūn as a Historical Linguist with an Excursus on the Question of Ancient gāf". Harvard University.
  12. ^ Blanc 1969: 11, Travelling Through Time, Essays in honour of Kaj Öhrnberg
  13. ^ Oztopchu, Kurtulush (1993). "A Comparison of Modern Azeri With Modern Turkish" (PDF). A Comparison of Modern Azeri with Modern Turkish.
  14. ^ Abdoh (2010:84)
  15. ^ Omar (1975:x)
  16. ^ Omar (1975:xiv)
  17. ^ Owens, Owens. The Oxford Handbook of Arabic Linguistics. p. 259.
  18. ^ Alahmadi, Sameeha (2015). "Loanwords in the Urban Meccan Hijazi Dialect: An Analysis of Lexical Variation according to Speakers' Sex, Age and Education". Loanwords in the Urban Meccan Hijazi Dialect: An Analysis of Lexical Variation According to Speakers' Sex, Age and Education. Canadian Center of Science and Education.
  19. ^ Eifan, Emtenan (2017). "Grammaticalization in Urban Hijazi Arabic" (PDF). Grammaticalization in Urban Hijazi Arabic: 39.
  20. ^ Kheshaifaty (1997) "Numerals: a comparative study between classical and hijazi arabic"
  21. ^ Ahyad, Honaida; Becker, Michael (2020). "Vowel unpredictability in Hijazi Arabic monosyllabic verbs". Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics. 5. doi:10.5334/gjgl.814.
  22. ^ Sieny, Mahmoud (1978). "The Syntax of Urban Hijazi Arabic". The Syntax of Urban Hijazi Arabic: 33.
  23. ^ Kramer, Ruth; Winchester, Lindley (January 2018). "Number and Gender Agreement in Saudi Arabic: Morphology vs. Syntax". Number and Gender Agreement in Saudi Arabic: Morphology Vs. Syntax: 41.
  24. ^ Omar (1975)
  25. ^ Al-Mohanna Abaalkhail, Faisal (1998). "Syllabification and metrification in Urban Hijazi Arabic: between rules and constraints" (PDF). Syllabification and Metrification in Urban Hijazi Arabic: Between Rules and Constraints. Chapter 3: 119.
  26. ^ Holes, Clive (2004). Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C. pp. 92. ISBN 9781589010222.
  27. ^ Aljuhani, Sultan (2008). "Spoken Al-'Ula dialect between privacy and fears of extinction. (in Arabic)".