While it is primarily a spoken language, the written form is used in novels, plays and poems (vernacular literature
), as well as in comics, advertising, some newspapers and transcriptions of popular songs. In most other written media and in television news reporting, Literary Arabic
is used. Literary Arabic is a standardized language based on the language of the Quran
, that is, Classical Arabic
. The Egyptian vernacular
is almost universally written in the Arabic alphabet
for local consumption, although it is commonly transcribed into Latin letters
or in the International Phonetic Alphabet
in linguistics text and textbooks aimed at teaching non-native learners.
The term Egyptian Arabic is usually used synonymously with "Cairene Arabic
", which is technically a dialect of Egyptian Arabic. The country's native name, Maṣr
, is often used locally to refer to Cairo itself. As is the case with Parisian French
, Cairene Arabic is by far the most prevalent dialect in the country.
The total number of Egyptian Arabic users in all countries is over 51 million, 49 million of whom are native speakers in Egypt, including several regional dialects. In addition, there are immigrant Egyptian communities in the Middle East
, North America
, Latin America
and South East Asia
. Among the spoken varieties of Arabic
, Standard Egyptian Arabic
(based on the dialect of the Egyptian capital) is the only one to have become a lingua franca
in other parts of the Arabic-speaking world for two main reasons:
the proliferation and popularity of Egyptian films and other media in the region since the early 20th century as well as the great number of Egyptian teachers and professors who were instrumental in setting up the education systems of various countries in the Arabian Peninsula
and also taught there and in other countries such as Algeria
. Also, many Lebanese artists choose to sing in Egyptian and Lebanese
. Standard Egyptian Arabic when used in documents, broadcast media, prepared speeches and sometimes in liturgical purpose, is Cairene Arabic with loanwords from Modern Standard Arabic origin or code-switching between Cairene Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic
.[better source needed]
One of the earliest linguistic sketches of Cairene Arabic is a 16th-century document entitled Dafʿ al-ʾiṣr ʿan kalām ahl Miṣr 
(دفع الإصر عن كلام أهل مصر
, "The Removal of the Burden from the Language of the People of Cairo") by Yusuf al-Maghribi
). With Misr here meaning Cairo. It contains key information on early Cairene Arabic and the language situation in Egypt in the Middle Ages
. The main purpose of the document was to show that while the Cairenes' vernacular contained many critical "errors" vis-à-vis Classical Arabic, according to al-Maghribi, it was also related to Arabic in other respects. With many waves of immigration from the Arabian peninsula such as the Banu Hilal
exodus, together with the ongoing Islamization
of the country, multiple Arabic varieties, one of which is Egyptian Arabic, slowly supplanted spoken Coptic. Local chroniclers mention the continued use of Coptic as a spoken language until the 17th century by peasant women in Upper Egypt
. Coptic is still the liturgical language
of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
Egyptian Arabic has no official status and is not officially recognized as a language. Standard Arabic
is the official language of the state as per constitutional law .
Interest in the local vernacular
began in the 1800s (in opposition to the language of the ruling class, Turkish), as the Egyptian national movement for self-determination
was taking shape. For many decades to follow, questions about the reform and the modernization of Arabic were hotly debated in Egyptian intellectual circles. Proposals ranged from developing neologisms
to replace archaic terminology in Modern Standard Arabic to the simplification of syntactical and morphological rules and the introduction of colloquialisms
to even complete "Egyptianization" (tamṣīr
) by abandoning the so-called Modern Standard Arabic in favor of Masri or Egyptian Arabic.
Proponents of language reform in Egypt
included Qasim Amin
, who also wrote the first Egyptian feminist treatise, former President of the Egyptian University
, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed
, and noted intellectual Salama Moussa
. They adopted a modernist, secular
approach and disagreed with the assumption that Arabic was an immutable language because of its association with the Qur'an
. The first modern Egyptian novel in which the dialogue was written in the vernacular was Muhammad Husayn Haykal
in 1913. It was only in 1966 that Mustafa Musharafa
's Kantara Who Disbelieved
was released, the first novel to be written entirely in Egyptian Arabic.
Other notable novelists, such as Ihsan Abdel Quddous
and Yusuf Idris
, and poets, such as Salah Jahin
, Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi
and Ahmed Fouad Negm
, helped solidify vernacular literature as a distinct literary genre.
Amongst certain groups within Egypt's elite, Egyptian Arabic enjoyed a brief period of rich literary output. That dwindled with the rise of Egyptian Arab nationalism
, which had gained wide popularity in Egypt by the final years of the Muhammad Ali dynasty
, as demonstrated vividly by Egypt's involvement in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War
under King Farouk of Egypt
. The Egyptian revolution of 1952
, led by Mohammed Naguib
and Gamal Abdel Nasser
, further enhanced the significance of Arab nationalism, making it a central element of Egyptian state policy. The importance of Modern Standard Arabic was reemphasised in the public sphere by the revolutionary government, and efforts to accord any formal language status to the Egyptian vernacular were ignored. Egyptian Arabic was identified as a mere dialect, one that was not spoken even in all of Egypt, as almost all of Upper Egypt
speaks Sa'idi Arabic
. Though the revolutionary government heavily sponsored the use of the Egyptian vernacular in films, plays, television programmes, and music, the prerevolutionary use of Modern Standard Arabic in official publications was retained.
have noted the multi-faceted approach of the Egyptian revolutionaries towards the Arabic language. Whereas Egypt's first president
, Mohammed Naguib exhibited a preference for using Modern Standard Arabic in his public speeches, his successor, Gamal Abdel Nasser
was renowned for using the vernacular and for punctuating his speeches with traditional Egyptian words and expressions. Conversely, Modern Standard Arabic was the norm for state news outlets, including newspapers, magazines, television, and radio. That was especially true of Egypt's national broadcasting company, the Arab Radio and Television Union
, which was established with the intent of providing content for the entire Arab world
, not merely Egypt, hence the need to broadcast in the standard, rather than the vernacular, language. The Voice of the Arabs
radio station, in particular, had an audience from across the region, and the use of anything other than Modern Standard Arabic was viewed as eminently incongruous.
As the status of Egyptian Arabic as opposed to Classical Arabic
can have such political and religious implications in Egypt,[how?]
the question of whether Egyptian Arabic should be considered a "dialect" or "language"
can be a source of debate. In sociolinguistics
, Egyptian Arabic can be seen as one of many distinct varieties
that, despite arguably being languages on abstand
grounds, are united by a common dachsprache
in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
During the early 1900s many portions of the Bible were published in Egyptian Arabic. These were published by the Nile Mission Press. By 1932 the whole New Testament and some books of the Old Testament had been published in Egyptian Arabic in Arabic script.
is a different variety than Egyptian Arabic in Ethnologue.com and ISO 639-3 and in other sources,
and the two varieties have limited mutual intelligibility
. It carries little prestige nationally but continues to be widely spoken, with 19,000,000 speakers.
The traditional division between Upper and Lower Egypt
and their respective differences go back to ancient times. Egyptians today commonly call the people of the north baḥarwa
([bɑˈħɑɾwɑ]) and those of the south ṣaʿayda
([sˤɑˈʕɑjdɑ]). The differences throughout Egypt, however, are more wide-ranging and do not neatly correspond to the simple division. The language shifts from the eastern to the western parts of the Nile Delta
, and the varieties spoken from Giza
are further grouped into a Middle Egypt cluster. Despite the differences, there are features distinguishing all the Egyptian Arabic varieties of the Nile Valley from any other varieties of Arabic. Such features include reduction of long vowels
in open and unstressed syllables, the postposition of demonstratives and interrogatives, the modal meaning of the imperfect and the integration of the participle.
Egyptian Arabic varies regionally across its sprachraum, with certain characteristics being noted as typical of the speech of certain regions.
The dialect of Alexandria
(West Delta) is noted for certain shibboleths
separating its speech from that of Cairo (South Delta). The ones that are most frequently noted in popular discourse are the use of the word falafel
as opposed to ṭa`meyya
for the fava-bean fritters common across the country and the pronunciation of the word for the Egyptian pound
, rather than the Cairene [ɡeˈneː]
(closer to the pronunciation of the origin of the term, the British guinea
). The speech of the older Alexandrian families is also noted for use of the first-person plural even when they speak in the singular, a feature of Maghrebi Arabic
's dialect (East Delta) is noted for a "heavier", more guttural sound, compared to other regions of the country.
Rural Nile Delta
The dialect of the Fellah
in Northern Egypt is noted for a distinct accent, replacing the urban pronunciations of ج [giːm] and ق [ʔaːf] with [ʒiːm] and [gaːf] respectively. The dialect also has many grammatical differences when contrasted to urban dialects.
Egyptian Arabic has a phonology that differs slightly from that of other varieties of Arabic and has its own inventory of consonants and vowels.
In contrast to CA and MSA, nouns are not inflected for case and lack nunation
(with the exception of certain fixed phrases in the accusative case, such as شكراً
[ˈʃokɾɑn], "thank you"). As all nouns take their pausal
forms, singular words and broken plurals
simply lose their case endings. In sound plurals and dual forms, where, in MSA, difference in case is present even in pausal forms, the genitive/accusative form is the one preserved. Fixed expressions in the construct state
beginning in abu
, often geographic names, retain their -u
in all cases.
Most common broken plural patterns
Secondary broken plural patterns
Examples of "color and defect" nouns
A common set of nouns referring to colors, as well as a number of nouns referring to physical defects of various sorts (ʔaṣlaʕ
"dumb"), take a special inflectional pattern, as shown in the table. Note that only a small number of common colors inflect this way: ʔaḥmaṛ
"brown-skinned, brunette"; ʔaʃʔaṛ
"blond(e)". The remaining colors are invariable, and mostly so-called nisba
adjectives derived from colored objects: bunni
"brown" (< bunn
"coffee powder"); ṛamaadi
"gray" (< ṛamaad
"purple" (< banafsig
"orange" (< burtuʔaan
"maroon" (< zibiib
"raisins"); etc., or of foreign origin: beeع
"beige" from the French; bamba
"pink" from Turkish pembe
Forms of the independent and clitic pronouns
Examples of possessive constructs
Egyptian Arabic object pronouns are clitics
, in that they attach to the end of a noun, verb, or preposition, with the result forming a single phonological word rather than separate words. Clitics can be attached to the following types of words:
- A clitic pronoun attached to a noun indicates possession: béet "house", béet-i "my house"; sikkíina "knife", sikkínt-i "my knife"; ʔább "father", ʔabúu-ya "my father". Note that the form of a pronoun may vary depending on the phonological form of the word being attached to (ending with a vowel or with one or two consonants), and the noun being attached to may also have a separate "construct" form before possessive clitic suffixes.
- A clitic pronoun attached to a preposition indicates the object of the preposition: minno "from it (masculine object)", ʕaleyha "on it (feminine object)"
- A clitic pronoun attached to a verb indicates the object of the verb: ʃúft "I saw", ʃúft-u "I saw him", ʃuft-áha "I saw her".
With verbs, indirect object clitic pronouns can be formed using the preposition li- plus a clitic. Both direct and indirect object clitic pronouns can be attached to a single verb: agíib "I bring", agíb-hu "I bring it", agib-húu-lik "I bring it to you", m-agib-hu-lkíi-ʃ "I do not bring it to you".
Verbs in Arabic are based on a stem made up of three or four consonants. The set of consonants communicates the basic meaning of a verb. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes and/or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as tense, person, and number, in addition to changes in the meaning of the verb that embody grammatical concepts such as causative
Each particular lexical verb
is specified by two stems, one used for the past tense and one used for non-past tenses along with as subjunctive
moods. To the former stem, suffixes are added to mark the verb for person, number, and gender, while to the latter stem, a combination of prefixes and suffixes are added. (Very approximately, the prefixes specify the person and the suffixes indicate number and gender.) The third person masculine singular past tense form serves as the "dictionary form" used to identify a verb, similar to the infinitive
in English (Arabic has no infinitive). For example, the verb meaning "write" is often specified as kátab
, which actually means "he wrote". In the paradigms below, a verb will be specified as kátab/yíktib
means "he wrote" and yíktib
means "he writes"), indicating the past stem (katab-
) and non-past stem (-ktib-
, obtained by removing the prefix yi-
The verb classes in Arabic are formed along two axes. One axis (described as "form I", "form II", etc.) is used to specify grammatical concepts such as causative
, or reflexive
, and involves varying the stem form. For example, from the root K-T-B "write" is derived form I kátab/yíktib
"write", form II káttib/yikáttib
"cause to write", form III ká:tib/yiká:tib
"correspond", etc. The other axis is determined by the particular consonants making up the root. For example, defective verbs have a W or Y as the last root consonant, which is often reflected in paradigms with an extra final vowel in the stem (e.g. ráma/yírmi
"throw" from R-M-Y); meanwhile, hollow verbs have a W or Y as the middle root consonant, and the stems of such verbs appear to have only two consonants (e.g. gá:b/yigí:b
"bring" from G-Y-B).
Strong verbs are those that have no "weakness" (e.g. W or Y) in the root consonants. Each verb has a given vowel pattern for Past (a or i) and Present (a or i or u). Combinations of each exist.
Form I verbs have a given vowel pattern for past (a or i) and present (a, i or u). Combinations of each exist:
Regular verb, form I, fáʕal/yífʕil
Example: kátab/yíktib "write"
Note that, in general, the present indicative is formed from the subjunctive by the addition of bi- (bi-a- is elided to ba-). Similarly, the future is formed from the subjunctive by the addition of ḥa- (ḥa-a- is elided to ḥa-). The i in bi- or in the following prefix will be deleted according to the regular rules of vowel syncope:
- híyya b-tíktib "she writes" (híyya + bi- + tíktib)
- híyya bi-t-ʃú:f "she sees" (híyya + bi- + tiʃú:f)
- an-áktib "I write (subjunctive)" (ána + áktib)
Example: kátab/yíktib "write": non-finite forms
Regular verb, form I, fíʕil/yífʕal
Example: fíhim/yífham "understand"
Boldfaced forms fíhm-it and fíhm-u differ from the corresponding forms of katab (kátab-it and kátab-u due to vowel syncope). Note also the syncope in ána fhím-t "I understood".
Regular verb, form II, fáʕʕil/yifáʕʕil
Example: dárris/yidárris "teach"
Boldfaced forms indicate the primary differences from the corresponding forms of katab:
- The prefixes ti-, yi-, ni- have elision of i following bi- or ḥa- (all verbs whose stem begins with a single consonant behave this way).
- The imperative prefix i- is missing (again, all verbs whose stem begins with a single consonant behave this way).
- Due to the regular operation of the stress rules, the stress in the past tense forms darrís-it and darrís-u differs from kátab-it and kátab-u.
Regular verb, form III, fá:ʕil/yifá:ʕil
Example: sá:fir/yisá:fir "travel"
The primary differences from the corresponding forms of darris (shown in boldface) are:
- The long vowel a: becomes a when unstressed.
- The i in the stem sa:fir is elided when a suffix beginning with a vowel follows.
Defective verbs have a W or Y as the last root consonant.
Defective verb, form I, fáʕa/yífʕi
Example: ráma/yírmi "throw away" (i.e. trash, etc.)
The primary differences from the corresponding forms of katab (shown in boldface) are:
- In the past, there are three stems: ráma with no suffix, ramé:- with a consonant-initial suffix, rám- with a vowel initial suffix.
- In the non-past, the stem rmi becomes rm- before a (vowel initial) suffix, and the stress remains on the prefix, since the stem vowel has been elided.
- Note also the accidental homonymy between masculine tí-rmi, í-rmi and feminine tí-rm-i, í-rm-i.
Defective verb, form I, fíʕi/yífʕa
Example: nísi/yínsa "forget"
This verb type is quite similar to the defective verb type ráma/yírmi. The primary differences are:
- The occurrence of i and a in the stems are reversed: i in the past, a in the non-past.
- In the past, instead of the stems ramé:- and rám-, the verb has nisí:- (with a consonant-initial suffix) and nísy- (with a vowel initial suffix). Note in particular the |y| in nísyit and nísyu as opposed to rámit and rámu.
- Elision of i in nisí:- can occur, e.g. ána nsí:t "I forgot".
- In the non-past, because the stem has a instead of i, there is no homonymy between masculine tí-nsa, í-nsa and feminine tí-ns-i, í-ns-i.
Note that some other verbs have different stem variations, e.g. míʃi/yímʃi "walk" (with i in both stems) and báʔa/yíbʔa "become, remain" (with a in both stems). The verb láʔa/yilá:ʔi "find" is unusual in having a mixture of a form I past and form III present (note also the variations líʔi/yílʔa and láʔa/yílʔa).
Verbs other than form I have consistent stem vowels. All such verbs have a in the past (hence form stems with -é:-, not -í:-). Forms V, VI, X and IIq have a in the present (indicated by boldface below); others have i; forms VII, VIIt, and VIII have i in both vowels of the stem (indicated by italics below); form IX verbs, including "defective" verbs, behave as regular doubled verbs:
- Form II: wádda/yiwáddi "take away"; ʔáwwa/yiʔáwwi "strengthen"
- Form III: ná:da/yiná:di "call"; dá:wa/yidá:wi "treat, cure"
- Form IV (rare, classicized): ʔárḍa/yírḍi "please, satisfy
- Form V: itʔáwwa/yitʔáwwa "become strong"
- Form VI: itdá:wa/yitdá:wa "be treated, be cured"
- Form VII (rare in the Cairene dialect): inḥáka/yinḥíki "be told"
- Form VIIt: itnása/yitnísi "be forgotten"
- Form VIII: iʃtára/yiʃtíri "buy"
- Form IX (very rare): iḥláww/yiḥláww "be/become sweet"
- Form X: istákfa/yistákfa "have enough"
- Form Iq: need example
- Form IIq: need example
Hollow have a W or Y as the middle root consonant. Note that for some forms (e.g. form II and form III), hollow verbs are conjugated as strong verbs (e.g. form II ʕáyyin/yiʕáyyin "appoint" from ʕ-Y-N, form III gá:wib/yigá:wib "answer" from G-W-B).
Hollow verb, form I, fá:l/yifí:l
Example: gá:b/yigí:b "bring"
This verb works much like dárris/yidárris "teach". Like all verbs whose stem begins with a single consonant, the prefixes differ in the following way from those of regular and defective form I verbs:
- The prefixes ti-, yi-, ni- have elision of i following bi- or ḥa-.
- The imperative prefix i- is missing.
In addition, the past tense has two stems: gíb- before consonant-initial suffixes (first and second person) and gá:b- elsewhere (third person).
Hollow verb, form I, fá:l/yifú:l
Example: ʃá:f/yiʃú:f "see"
This verb class is identical to verbs such as gá:b/yigí:b except in having stem vowel u in place of i.
Doubled verbs have the same consonant as middle and last root consonant, e.g. ḥább/yiḥíbb "love" from Ḥ-B-B.
Doubled verb, form I, fáʕʕ/yifíʕʕ
Example: ḥább/yiḥíbb "love"
This verb works much like gá:b/yigí:b "bring". Like that class, it has two stems in the past, which are ḥabbé:- before consonant-initial suffixes (first and second person) and ḥább- elsewhere (third person). Note that é:- was borrowed from the defective verbs; the Classical Arabic equivalent form would be *ḥabáb-, e.g. *ḥabáb-t.
Other verbs have u or a in the present stem: baṣṣ/yibúṣṣ "to look", ṣaḥḥ/yiṣáḥḥ "be right, be proper".
As for the other forms:
- Form II, V doubled verbs are strong: ḥáddid/yiḥáddid "limit, fix (appointment)"
- Form III, IV, VI, VIII doubled verbs seem non-existent
- Form VII and VIIt doubled verbs (same stem vowel a in both stems): inbáll/yinbáll "be wetted", itʕádd/yitʕádd
- Form VIII doubled verbs (same stem vowel a in both stems): ihtámm/yihtámm "be interested (in)"
- Form IX verbs (automatically behave as "doubled" verbs, same stem vowel a in both stems): iḥmárr/yiḥmárr "be red, blush", iḥláww/yiḥláww "be sweet"
- Form X verbs (stem vowel either a or i in non-past): istaḥáʔʔ/yistaḥáʔʔ "deserve" vs. istaʕádd/yistaʕídd "be ready", istamárr/yistamírr "continue".
Assimilated verbs have W or Y as the first root consonant. Most of these verbs have been regularized in Egyptian Arabic, e.g. wázan/yíwzin "to weigh" or wíṣíl/yíwṣal "to arrive". Only a couple of irregular verbs remain, e.g. wíʔif/yúʔaf "stop" and wíʔiʕ/yúʔaʕ "fall" (see below).
Doubly weak verbs
"Doubly weak" verbs have more than one "weakness", typically a W or Y as both the second and third consonants. This term is in fact a misnomer, as such verbs actually behave as normal defective verbs (e.g. káwa/yíkwi "iron (clothes)" from K-W-Y, ʔáwwa/yiʔáwwi "strengthen" from ʔ-W-Y, dá:wa/yidá:wi "treat, cure" from D-W-Y).
The irregular verbs are as follows:
- ídda/yíddi "give" (endings like a normal defective verb)
- wíʔif/yúʔaf "stop" and wíʔiʕ/yúʔaʕ "fall" (áʔaf, báʔaf, ḥáʔaf "I (will) stop"; úʔaf "stop!")
- kal/yá:kul "eat" and xad/yá:xud "take" (kalt, kal, kálit, kálu "I/he/she/they ate", also regular ákal, etc. "he/etc. ate"; á:kul, bá:kul, ḥá:kul "I (will) eat", yáklu "they eat"; kúl, kúli, kúlu "eat!"; wá:kil "eating"; mittá:kil "eaten")
- gé/yí:gi "come". This verb is extremely irregular (with particularly unusual forms in boldface):
Example: gé/yí:gi "come": non-finite forms
Table of verb forms
In this section all verb classes and their corresponding stems are listed, excluding the small number of irregular verbs described above. Verb roots are indicated schematically using capital letters to stand for consonants in the root:
- F = first consonant of root
- M = middle consonant of three-consonant root
- S = second consonant of four-consonant root
- T = third consonant of four-consonant root
- L = last consonant of root
Hence, the root F-M-L stands for all three-consonant roots, and F-S-T-L stands for all four-consonant roots. (Traditional Arabic grammar uses F-ʕ-L and F-ʕ-L-L, respectively, but the system used here appears in a number of grammars of spoken Arabic dialects and is probably less confusing for English speakers, since the forms are easier to pronounce than those involving ʕ.)
The following table lists the prefixes and suffixes to be added to mark tense, person, number and gender, and the stem form to which they are added. The forms involving a vowel-initial suffix, and corresponding stem PAv or NPv, are highlighted in silver. The forms involving a consonant-initial suffix, and corresponding stem PAc, are highlighted in gold. The forms involving a no suffix, and corresponding stem PA0 or NP0, are unhighlighted.
The following table lists the verb classes along with the form of the past and non-past stems, active and passive participles, and verbal noun, in addition to an example verb for each class.
- Italicized forms are those that follow automatically from the regular rules of vowel shortening and deletion.
- Multisyllabic forms without a stress mark have variable stress, depending on the nature of the suffix added, following the regular rules of stress assignment.
- Many participles and verbal nouns have acquired an extended sense. In fact, participles and verbal nouns are the major sources for lexical items based on verbs, especially derived (i.e. non-Form-I) verbs.
- Some verb classes do not have a regular verbal noun form; rather, the verbal noun varies from verb to verb. Even in verb classes that do have a regular verbal noun form, there are exceptions. In addition, some verbs share a verbal noun with a related verb from another class (in particular, many passive verbs use the corresponding active verb's verbal noun, which can be interpreted in either an active or passive sense). Some verbs appear to lack a verbal noun entirely. (In such a case, a paraphrase would be used involving a clause beginning with inn.)
- Outside of Form I, passive participles as such are usually non-existent; instead, the active participle of the corresponding passive verb class (e.g. Forms V, VI, VIIt/VIIn for Forms II, III, I respectively) is used. The exception is certain verbs in Forms VIII and X that contain a "classicized" passive participle that is formed in imitation of the corresponding participle in Classical Arabic, e.g. mistáʕmil "using", mustáʕmal "used".
- Not all forms have a separate verb class for hollow or doubled roots. When no such class is listed below, roots of that shape appear as strong verbs in the corresponding form, e.g. Form II strong verb ḍáyyaʕ/yiḍáyyaʕ "waste, lose" related to Form I hollow verb ḍá:ʕ/yiḍí:ʕ "be lost", both from root Ḍ-Y-ʕ.
One characteristic of Egyptian syntax which it shares with other North African varieties as well as some southern Levantine dialect areas is in the two-part negative verbal circumfix /ma-...-ʃ(i)/
- Past: /ˈkatab/ "he wrote" /ma-katab-ʃ(i)/ "he didn't write" ما كتبشِ
- Present: /ˈjik-tib/ "he writes" /ma-bjik-tib-ʃ(i)/ "he doesn't write" ما بيكتبشِ
/ma-/ comes from the Classical Arabic negator /maː/. /-ʃ(i)/ is a development of Classical /ʃajʔ/ "thing". This negating circumfix
is similar in function to the French
circumfix ne ... pas
The structure can end in a consonant /ʃ/ or in a vowel /i/, varying according to the individual or region. The fuller ending /ʃi/ is considered rural, and nowadays Cairene
speakers usually use the shorter /ʃ/. However, /ʃi/ was more common in the past, as attested in old films
The negative circumfix often surrounds the entire verbal composite including direct and indirect object pronouns:
/ma-katab-hum-ˈliː-ʃ/ "he didn't write them to me"
However, verbs in the future tense typically instead use the prefix /miʃ/:
/miʃ-ħa-ˈjiktib/ (or /ma-ħa-jikˈtibʃ/ "he won't write"
Interrogative sentences can be formed by adding the negation clitic
"(miʃ)" before the verb:
- Past: /ˈkatab/ "he wrote"; /miʃ-ˈkatab/ "didn't he write?"
- Present: /ˈjiktib/ "he writes"; /miʃ-bi-ˈjiktib/ "doesn't he write?"
- Future: /ħa-ˈjiktib/ "he will write"; /miʃ-ħa-ˈjiktib/ "won't he write?"
Addition of the circumfix can cause complex changes to the verbal cluster, due to the application of the rules of vowel syncope, shortening, lengthening, insertion and elision described above:
- The addition of /ma-/ may trigger elision or syncope:
- A vowel following /ma-/ is elided: (ixtáːr) "he chose" → (maxtárʃ).
- A short vowel /i/ or /u/ in the first syllable may be deleted by syncope: (kíbir) "he grew" → (makbírʃ).
- The addition of /-ʃ/ may result in vowel shortening or epenthesis:
- A final long vowel preceding a single consonant shortens: (ixtáːr) "he chose" → (maxtárʃ).
- An unstressed epenthetic /i/ is inserted when the verbal complex ends in two consonants: /kunt/ "I was" → (makúntiʃ).
- In addition, the addition of /-ʃ/ triggers a stress shift, which may in turn result in vowel shortening or lengthening:
- The stress shifts to the syllable preceding /ʃ/: (kátab) "he wrote" → (makatábʃ).
- A long vowel in the previously stressed syllable shortens: (ʃáːfit) "she saw" → (maʃafítʃ); (ʃá:fu) "they saw" or "he saw it" → (maʃafú:ʃ).
- A final short vowel directly preceding /ʃ/ lengthens: (ʃáːfu) "they saw" or "he saw it" → (maʃafú:ʃ).
In addition, certain other morphological changes occur:
- (ʃafúː) "they saw him" → (maʃafuhúːʃ) (to avoid a clash with (maʃafúːʃ) "they didn't see/he didn't see him").
- (ʃáːfik) "He saw you (fem. sg.)" → (maʃafkíːʃ).
- (ʃúftik) "I saw you (fem. sg.)" → (maʃuftikíːʃ).
Also in common with other Arabic varieties is the loss of unique agreement
in the dual form: while the dual remains productive to some degree in nouns, dual nouns are analyzed as plural for the purpose of agreement with verbs, demonstratives, and adjectives. Thus "These two Syrian professors are walking to the university" in MSA (in an SVO sentence for ease of comparison) would be "هذان الأستاذان السوريان يمشيان إلى الجامعة
" Haḏān al-ʾustāḏān as-Sūriyyān yamšiyān ʾilā l-ǧāmiʿah
IPA: [hæːˈzæːn æl ʔostæːˈzæːn as suːrejˈjæːn jæmʃeˈjæːn ˈʔelæ lɡæːˈmeʕæ]
, which becomes in EA "الأستاذين السوريين دول بيمشو للجامعة
" il-ʔustazēn il-Suriyyīn dōl biyimʃu lil-gamʕa,
IPA: [el ʔostæˈzeːn el soɾejˈjiːn ˈdoːl beˈjemʃo lelˈɡæmʕæ]
Egyptian Arabic appears to have retained a significant Coptic substratum
in its lexicon
, and syntax
. Coptic is the latest stage of the indigenous Egyptian language
spoken until the mid-17th century when it was finally completely supplanted among Egyptian Muslims and a majority of Copts by the Egyptian Arabic. Some features that Egyptian Arabic shares with the original ancient Egyptian language include certain prefix and suffix verbal conjugations, certain emphatic and glottalized consonants, as well as a large number of biliteral and triliteral lexical correspondences.
(i.e. "who", "when", "why" remain
in their "logical" positions in a sentence rather than being preposed, or moved to the front of the sentence, as in Literary Arabic or English).
- /rˤaːħ masˤrI ʔimta/ (راح مصر امتى؟) "When (/ʔimta/) did he go to Egypt?" (lit. "He went to Egypt when?")
- /rˤaːħ masˤrI leːh/ (راح مصر ليه؟) "Why (/leːh/) did he go to Egypt? (lit. "He went to Egypt why?")
- /miːn rˤaːħ masˤr/ or /miːn illi rˤaːħ masˤr/ (مين [اللى] راح مصر؟) "Who (/miːn/) went to Egypt/Cairo? (literally – same order)
The same sentences in Literary Arabic
(with all the question words (wh
-words) in the beginning of the sentence) would be:
- متى ذهب إلى مصر؟ /mataː ðahaba ʔilaː misˤr/
- لِمَ ذهب إلى مصر؟ /lima ðahaba ʔilaː misˤr/
- من ذهب إلى مصر؟ /man ðahaba ʔilaː misˤr/
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (April 2011)
Egyptian Arabic is used in most social situations, with Modern Standard and Classical Arabic generally being used only in writing and in highly-religious and/or formal situations. However, within Egyptian Arabic, there is a wide range of variation. El-Said Badawi
identifies three distinct levels of Egyptian Arabic based chiefly on the quantity of non-Arabic lexical items in the vocabulary: ʿĀmmiyyat al-Musaqqafīn
(Cultured Colloquial or Formal Spoken Arabic
), ʿĀmmiyyat al-Mutanawwirīn
(Enlightened or Literate Colloquial), and ʿĀmmiyyat al-'Ummiyīn
Cultured Colloquial/Formal Spoken Arabic is characteristic of the educated classes and is the language of discussion of high-level subjects, but it is still Egyptian Arabic; it is characterized by use of technical terms imported from foreign languages and MSA and closer attention to the pronunciation of certain letters (particularly qāf
). It is relatively standardized and, being closer to the standard, it is understood fairly well across the Arab world
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Illiterate Colloquial, common to rural areas and to working-class neighborhoods in the cities, has an almost-exclusively Arabic vocabulary; the few loanwords generally are very old borrowings (e.g. جمبرى
, [ɡæmˈbæɾi] "shrimp
", from Italiangamberi
, "shrimp" (pl.)) or refer to technological items that find no or poor equivalents in Arabic (e.g. تلفزيون
[tel(e)vezˈjoːn, tel(e)fezˈjoːn], television
Enlightened Colloquial (ʿĀmmiyyat al-Mutanawwirīn
) is the language of those who have had some schooling and are relatively affluent; loanwords tend to refer to items of popular culture, consumer products, and fashions. It is also understood widely in the Arab world, as it is the lingua franca
of Egyptian cinema
In contrast to MSA and most other varieties of Arabic, Egyptian Arabic has a form of the T-V distinction
. In the singular, انت
is acceptable in most situations, but to address clear social superiors (e.g. older persons, superiors at work, certain government officials), the form حضرتك
, meaning "Your Grace
" is preferred (compare Spanishusted
This use of ḥaḍretak/ḥaḍretek
is linked to the system of honorifics
in daily Egyptian speech. The honorific taken by a given person is determined by their relationship to the speaker and their occupation.
Examples of Egyptian honorifics
Other honorifics also exist.
In usage, honorifics are used in the second and third person.
Egyptian Arabic has been a subject of study by scholars and laypersons in the past and the present for many reasons, including personal interest, egyptomania
, business, news reporting, and diplomatic and political interactions. Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA) is now a field of study in both graduate and undergraduate levels in many higher education institutions and universities in the world. When added to academic instruction, Arabic-language schools and university programs provide Egyptian Arabic courses in a classroom fashion, and others facilitate classes for online study.
Egyptian/Masri (Arabic script; spelling not standardised):
الاعلان العالمى لحقوق الانسان, البند الاولانى
الاعلان العالمى لحقوق الانسان، البند الاولانى البنى ادمين كلهم مولودين حرّين ومتساويين فى الكرامة والحقوق. اتوهبلهم العقل والضمير، والمفروض يعاملو بعضيهم بروح الاخوية.
el e3lan el 3alami le 72u2 el ensan, el band el awalani
el bani2admin kollohom mawlodin 7orrin we metsawyin fel karama wel 7o2u2. Etwahablohom el 3a2l wel damir, wel mafrud ye3amlo ba3dihom be ro7 el akhaweya.
/il ʔiʕˈlaːn il ʕaːˈlami li ħˈʔuːʔ il ʔinˈsaːn | il ˈband il ʔawwaˈlaːni/
/il bani ʔadˈmiːn kulˈluhum mawluˈdiːn ħurˈriːn wi mitsawˈjiːn fik kaˈrˤaːma wil ħuˈʔuːʔ || ʔetwahabˈlohom ilˈʕaʔle we ddˤaˈmiːr wel mafˈruːdˤ jeʕamlo baʕˈdˤiːhom biˈroːħ el ʔaxaˈwejja/
IPA phonemic transcription (for a general demonstration of Egyptian phonology):
/el ʔeʕˈlaːn el ʕaːˈlami le ħˈʔuːʔ el ʔenˈsaːn | el ˈband el ʔawwaˈlaːni/
/el bani ʔadˈmiːn kolˈlohom mawloˈdiːn ħorˈriːn we metsawˈjiːn fel kaˈrˤaːma wel ħoˈʔuːʔ || ʔetwahabˈlohom elˈʕaʔle we ddˤaˈmiːr wel mafˈruːdˤ jeˈʕamlu baʕˈdˤiːhom beˈroːħ el ʔaxaˈwejja/
IPA phonetic transcription morphologically (in fast speech, long vowels
are half-long or without distinctive length):
[el ʔeʕˈlæːn el ʕæˈlæmi le ħˈʔuːʔ el ʔenˈsæːn | el ˈbænd el ʔæwwæˈlæːni]
[el bæniʔædˈmiːn kolˈlohom mæwlʊˈdiːn ħʊrˈriːn we metsæwˈjiːn fel kɑˈɾɑːmɑ wel ħʊˈʔuːʔ || ʔetwæhæbˈlohom elˈʕæʔle we ddɑˈmiːɾ wel mɑfˈɾuːd jeˈʕæmlu bɑʕˈdiːhom beˈɾoːħ el ʔæxæˈwejjæ]
A suggested alphabet:
El-Eɛlan el-Ɛalami le Ḥoquq el-Ensan, el-band el-awwalani:
El-baniʔadmin kollohom mawludin ḥorrin we metsawjin fek-karama wel-ḥoquq. Etwahablohom el-ɛaql weḍ-ḍamir, wel-mafruḍ jeɛamlo baɛḍihom be roḥ el-acawejja.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood.
Sample words and sentences
- إزيك [ezˈzæjjæk] ("How are you [m.]")
- إزيك [ezˈzæjjek] ("How are you [f.]")
- إزيكو [ezzæjˈjoko] ("How are you [pl.]")
- ايه ده [ˈʔeː ˈdæ] ("What's all this?", "What's the point", "What's this?" – expression of annoyance)
Ex.: انت بتقوللهم عليا كده ليه, ايه ده؟ [entæ betʔolˈlohom ʕæˈlæjjæ ˈkedæ ˈleː ˈʔeː dæ] ("Why are you telling them such things about me, what's all this?")
- خلاص [xɑˈlɑːsˤ]: several meanings, though its main meaning is "enough", often adverbial
- "Stop it!" Ex.: زهقت, خلاص [zeˈheʔte xɑˈlɑːsˤ] ("I'm annoyed, stop it!")
- "It's over!", "finally, eventually" مامتى كانت عيانه و ماتت, خلاص Ex.: [ˈmɑmti kæːnet ʕajˈjæːnæ wˈmæːtet xɑˈlɑːsˤ]| ("My mother was ill and died finally." [or "...and it's over now"])
- "Ok, then!" Ex.: خلاص, أشوفك بكرا [xɑˈlɑːsˤ ʔæˈʃuːfæk ˈbokɾɑ] ("I'll see you tomorrow then")
- خالص [ˈxɑːlesˤ] ("at all")
ماعندناش حاجه نقولها خالص [mæʕændeˈnæːʃ ˈħæːɡæ nˈʔolhæ ˈxɑːlesˤ] ("We have nothing at all to say")
- كفاية [keˈfæːjæ] ("It's enough!" or "That's enough")
- يعنى [ˈjæʕni] ("that's to say" or "meaning" or "y'know")
- As answer to انت عامل إيه؟ [entæ ˈʕæːmel ˈ(ʔ)eː] ("How do you do [m.]?") (as an answer: مش أد كده [meʃ ˈʔædde ˈkedæ] "I am so so" or نص نص [ˈnosˤse ˈnosˤ] "half half" = مش تمام [meʃ tæˈmæːm] "not perfect")
- يعنى ايه؟ [jæʕni ˈʔeː] ("What does that mean?")
- امتى هتخلص يعنى؟ [ˈemtæ hɑtˈxɑllɑsˤ ˈjæʕni] ("When are you finishing exactly, then?)
- بقى [ˈbæʔæ] (particle of enforcement → "just" in imperative clauses and "well,...then?" in questions)
هاته بقى [ˈhæːto ˈbæʔæ] ("Just give it to me!)" عمل ايه بقى؟ [ˈʕæmæl ˈ(ʔ)eː ˈbæʔæ]or [ˈʕæmæl ˈ(ʔ)eː ˈbæʔæ] ("Well, what did he do then?")
- ^ Egyptian Arabic at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
- ^ سبيرو (1999). قاموس اللهجة العامية المصرية، عربي - إنكليزي (in Arabic). مكتبة لبنان ناشرون.
- ^ "تتويج رواية مكتوبة بالعامية.. طيف طه حسين ومستقبل الثقافة بمصر". www.aljazeera.net (in Arabic). Retrieved 2020-02-26.
- ^ Musa, Heba (الثلاثاء، 15 نوفمبر 2016 - 05:51 ص). "طه حسين..عشق الفصحى وكره العامية ودعى لتفهم التوارة والإنجيل والقرآن". بوابة اخبار اليوم. Retrieved 2020-02-26.Check date values in: |date= (help)
- ^ "Different Arabic Dialects Spoken Around the Arab World". April 15, 2018.
- ^ "Disney returns to using Egyptian dialect in dubbing movies". Enterprise.
- ^ "Languages Spoken In Egypt". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 2019-09-13.
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- ^ Conversion, Exemption, and Manipulation: Social Benefits and Conversion to Islam in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Forcing taxes on those who refuse to convert (PDF), ʿUmar is depicted as having ordered that "the poll-tax should be taken from all men who would not become Muslims"
- ^ Nishio, Tetsuo. "Word order and word order change of wh-questions in Egyptian Arabic: The Coptic substratum reconsidered". Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of L'Association Internationale pour la Dialectologie Arabe. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. 1996, pp. 171-179
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- ^ Youssef (2003), below.
- ^ 13 لغة أجنبية تشكل العامية المصرية [13 foreign languages within the Egyptian Arabic dialect]. رصيف 22. May 31, 2017.
- ^ Dick, Marlin. "TBS 15 The State of the Musalsal: Arab Television Drama and Comedy and the Politics of the Satellite Era by Marlin Dick". Arab Media & Society. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-03.
- ^ Mahmoud Gaafar, Jane Wightwick (2014).Colloquial Arabic of Egypt: The Complete Course for Beginners.
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- ^ ":: تعلم العربية| جامعة الأزهر | بوابة التعليم الالكتروني والتعليم عن بعد | e-Learning Al-Azhar University | Learn Arabic ::". tafl.live. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
- ^ Islam online on Mahmoud Timor Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ a b Present Culture in Egypt (in Arabic) and (in Egyptian Arabic) (PDF) by Bayoumi Andil.
- ^ Kerstin, Odendahl (August 2015), "World Natural Heritage", Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/law:epil/9780199231690/e1950, ISBN 978-0-19-923169-0
- ^ standard Egyptian Arabic
- ^ Haeri (2003)
- ^ Jenkins, Siona. Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook. Lonely Planet Publications, 2001. p. 205
- ^ The History of Herodotus by George Rawlinson, p.e 9
- ^ Zack, Liesbeth. Edition of Daf' al-Isr دفع الإصر عن كلام أهل مصر.
- ^ "الدستور المصري المعدل 2019". منشورات قانونية (in Arabic). 2017-04-03. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
- ^ a b Gershoni, I., J. Jankowski. (1987). Egypt, Islam, and the Arabs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- ^ "Book Review: First novel written in colloquial Arabic republished – Review – Books – Ahram Online".
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- ^ David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere Register, The Linguasphere Observatory
William Bright, 1992, The International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford.
- ^ "Arabic, Sa'idi Spoken". Ethnologue.
- ^ Versteegh, p. 162
- ^ "Arabic, Libyan Spoken".
- ^ David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere Register, The Linguasphere Observatory
- ^ "Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken".
- ^ Woidich, Manfred (1996-12-31). "Rural Dialect of Egyptian Arabic: An Overview". Égypte/Monde arabe (27–28): 325–354. doi:10.4000/ema.1952. ISSN 1110-5097.
- ^ See e.g. Behnstedt & Woidich (2005)
- ^ Hinds, Martin (1986). A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. Beirut: Librairie du Liban. p. 104.
- ^ Nishio, 1996
- ^ a b c d Badawi, El-Said; Hinds, Martin (1986). A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. Libraire du Liban. pp. VII–X. ISBN 978-1-85341-003-1.
- ^ http://www.facebook.com/egyptianalphabet
- Abdel-Massih, Ernest T.; A. Fathy Bahig (1978). Comprehensive Study of Egyptian Arabic: Conversation Texts, Folk Literature, Cultural Ethnological and Socio Linguistic Notes. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. ISBN 0-932098-11-8.
- Peter, Behnstedt; Manfred Woidich (1985). Die ägyptisch-arabischen Dialekte, vols. I, II. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert.
- Gary, Judith Olmsted, & Saad Gamal-Eldin. 1982. Cairene Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Lingua Descriptive Studies 6. Amsterdam: North Holland.
- Haeri, Niloofar (2003). Sacred Language, Ordinary People: Dilemmas of Culture and Politics in Egypt. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23897-5.
- Harrell, Richard S. 1957. The Phonology of Colloquial Egyptian Arabic. American Council of Learned Societies Program in Oriental Languages Publications Series B, Aids, Number 9. New York: American Council of Learned Societies.
- Hinds, Martin; El-Said Badawi (1987). A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. French & European Pubns. ISBN 0-8288-0434-6.
- Mitchell, T. F. 1956. An Introduction to Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Mitchell, T. F. 1962. Colloquial Arabic: the Living Language of Egypt. London: The English universities Press.
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- Youssef, Ahmad Abdel-Hamid (2003). From Pharaoh's Lips: Ancient Egyptian Language in the Arabic of Today. American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 977-424-708-6.
- Tomiche, Nada. 1964. Le parler arabe du Caire. Paris: Mouton.
- Versteegh, Kees (2001). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-1436-2.
- Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press
Last edited on 9 May 2021, at 16:47
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