Hejazi Arabic
Hejazi Arabic (also known as Hijazi Arabic [ISO 639-3], West Arabian Arabic) is a variety
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 of the Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 spoken in the western region of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Although, strictly speaking, there are two distinct dialects spoken in the Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 region, one by the bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 and rural tribes, and another by the urban population, the term most often applies to the urban variety, spoken in cities such as Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

, Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, Yanbu, and Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

. Outside of Arabia, Urban Hejazi appears to be most closely related to the Arabic dialects of Northern Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 (Ingham 1971).

Urban Hejazi 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
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 versus sedentary dialects of the Arabic language, this dialect group exhibits features of both.

Bedouin Features

The most prominent of these are the following:
  1. The qaaf (ق) of Standard Arabic is voiced and pronounced /ɡ/ (as in the English word "get").
  2. Hejazi Arabic does not employ double negation, nor does it append the negation particles -sh to negate verbs (Hejazi Ma A'rif, as opposed to Egyptian
    Egyptian Arabic
    Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by contemporary Egyptians.It is more commonly known locally as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect ....

     Ma'rafsh and Palestinian
    Palestinian Arabic
    Palestinian Arabic is a Levantine Arabic dialect subgroup spoken by Palestinians and the majority of Arab-Israelis. Rural varieties of this dialect exhibit several distinctive features; particularly the pronunciation of qaf as kaf, which distinguish them from other Arabic varieties...

     Bi'rafish, meaning "I don't know")
  3. The prohibitive mood of Classical Arabic is preserved in the imperative (la taruuh "don't go").
  4. The possessive suffixes are generally preserved in their Classical forms. For example, beitakum ("your house") plural form.

Sedentary Features

Like other sedentary dialects, the urban Hejazi dialect is less conservative than the bedouin varieties and has therefore shed many Classical forms and features that are still present in many bedouin dialects. These include the internal passive form (which in Hejazi, is replaced by the pattern anfa'al"/"yinfa'il), the marker for indefiniteness (tanwin), gender-number disagreement, and the feminine marker -n (see Varieties of Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

). Features that mark Hejazi Arabic as a sedentary dialect include:
  1. The present progressive tense is marked by /gaʕid/, /ʕammal/ or the prefix bi- (gaʕid/ʕammal yiktub or biyidrus, "he is studying").
  2. The interdental /θ/ ث (as in English "three") is mostly rendered "t", while the interdental /ð/ ذ (as in English "this") is mostly rendered "d" and sometimes "z" like in the word ("kazaba"). They remain interdental in the countryside.
  3. In contrast to bedouin dialects, the distinction between the emphatic sounds /dˤ/ ض and /ðˤ/ ظ is generally preserved.
  4. The final -n in present tense plural verb forms is no longer employed (e.g. yirkabu instead of yirkabun)
  5. The dominant case ending before the 3rd person masculine singular pronoun is -u, rather than the -a that is prevalent in bedouin dialects. For example, beituh ("his house"), 'induh ("with him"), 'arafuh ("he knew him").
  6. Possessive pronouns for the 2nd person are -ak (masculine) and -ik (feminine). In Standard Arabic, these are -ka and -ki, respectively, while in bedouin dialects they are -ik and -its or some variation thereof...

Other Features

Other features of Hejazi Arabic are:
  1. Compared to neighboring dialects, urban Hejazi retains more of the short vowels of Standard Arabic, for example:
samaka ("fish"), as opposed to bedouin smika, and Syrian
Syrian Arabic
Syrian Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken in Syria.-History:Syrian Arabic proper is a form of Levantine Arabic, and may be divided into South Syrian Arabic, spoken in the cities of Damascus, Homs and Hama, and North Syrian Arabic, spoken in the region of Aleppo. Allied dialects are spoken in...

darabatu ضربَته ("she hit him"), as opposed to bedouin dribtah
uktub ("write", Imperative mood), as opposed to bedouin iktib, and Syrian ktoub
'indakum عندَكُم ("in your [plural] possession"), as opposed to bedouin indikom, Egyptian 'andoko, and Lebanese 'andkun
  1. The plural first person pronoun is nihna (نحنا), as opposed to the more common ihna (إحنا) or the bedouin hinna (حنّا) and inna (إنّا).
  2. When used to indicate location, the preposition fee في is preferred to b بـ (fee Makkah, meaning "in Mecca"). In bedouin dialects, the preference differs by region.
  3. Less restriction on the distribution of /i/ and /u/.
  4. /a/ is more retracted: ä.
  5. The glottal stop can be added to final syllables ending in a vowel as a way of emphasising.
  6. The first person suffix pronoun is -ni.


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. Due to the diverse origins of the inhabitants of Hijazi cities, many borrowings from the dialects of Egypt, Syria, and Yemen exist. Five centuries of Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule have also had their influence. Due to this, the Hijazi dialect is considered to be of "mixed affinities" (Ingham 1971).

Certain distinctive particles and vocabulary in Hijazi are /ɡiːd/ "already", /daħħin/ "now", and /baɣa/ "he wanted".

Bedouin Hejazi Dialects

The varieties of Arabic spoken by the bedouin tribes of 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 Nejd, than to those of the Hejazi cities. The dialects of northern Hejazi tribes merge into those of Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 and Sinai, while the dialects in the south merge with those of 'Asir and Nejd. It is also worth noting that many large tribal confederations in Nejd and eastern Arabia are recent migrants from the Hejaz, including the tribes of Utaybah, Mutayr
Mutayr is one of the largest Sunni tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. The traditional leaders of Mutayr are the Doshan clan . The main branches of Mutayr today are Banu Abdullah, Al-'Olwa, and Braih....

, Harb, and Bani Khalid
Bani Khalid
.'Bani Khalid'. is an Arab tribal confederation of eastern and central Arabia. The tribe dominated the eastern region of modern-day Saudi Arabia from 1670 to 1793, and again under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire for a brief period in the early 19th century...

. In earlier times, many other Arab tribes also came from the Hejaz, including Kinana, Juhayna, Banu Sulaym, and Ghatafan. Also, not all speakers of these bedouin dialects are literally nomadic bedouins; some are simply sedentary tribal sections that live in rural areas, and thus speak dialects similar to those of their bedouin neighbors.
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