Arabic is the variety of
Arabic spoken throughout Sudan. Some
of the tribes in
Sudan still have similar accents to the ones in Saudi
2 Unique phonological characteristics
3 Influence of Nubian languages
4 Regional variation
5 Greetings in Sudanese Arabic
6 Assenting - saying yes
7 See also
9 External links
In 1889 the
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great
Britain claimed that the
Arabic spoken in
Sudan was "a pure but
archaic Arabic". The pronunciation of certain letters was like Hijazi,
and not Egyptian, such as g being the pronunciation for the Arabic
Qāf and J being the pronunciation for Jim.
Unique phonological characteristics
Arabic is distinct from
Egyptian Arabic and does not share
some of the characteristic properties of that dialect despite the
overall similarity of the two dialects. Sudanese
Arabic is more
closely related to Hejazi Arabic
Arabic letter ج maintains an archaic pronunciation [ɡʲ] in
Sudanese (other dialects typically have [dʒ], [ʒ]
or [j], while
Egyptian Arabic has [ɡ]).
Arabic also maintains an archaic rendering of qaf as [ɢ]
(Voiced uvular plosive) while Egyptian (like some other modern Urban
dialects) renders it as [ʔ]. The uvular rendering of qaf has been
lost in nearly every other
Arabic dialect and is also considered a
Also peculiar to Sudanese is the quality of the
transliterated as u/ū; this is usually transliterated as o in
materials on Sudanese because the sound ranges from ɵ~o rather than
the typical ʊ~u.
In addition to differences in pronunciation, Sudanese
Arabic also uses
some different words when compared to Egyptian Arabic. For example,
the interrogative pronoun "what" in
Sudan is shinu rather than "eh" as
in Egyptian Arabic.
Influence of Nubian languages
In northern and central parts of Sudan, Sudanese colloquial
been influenced by the Nubian language, which in ancient times was the
dominant language in Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. Many of the
agricultural and farming terms in Sudanese
Arabic were adopted from
Arabic angareb < Nobiin: àngàréé "wooden bed"
Arabic kadēsa < Nobiin: kàdíís "cat" versus Standard
Arabic qiṭṭ and hirr (and derivatives of the same, i.e. diminutive
hurayrah "housecat, kitten").
Because of the varying influence of local languages in different parts
of Sudan, there is considerable regional variation in
throughout the country. Sudanese
Arabic typically refers to Arabic
spoken mostly in central parts of Sudan. The other most commonly
mentioned derivative of Sudanese
Arabic is Juba Arabic, a pidgin of
Arabic spoken in South Sudan, which is much more heavily influenced by
other local languages.
Greetings in Sudanese Arabic
In northern Sudan, greetings are typically extended, and involve
multiple questions about the other person's health, their family etc.
When greeting someone you know informally, it is common to begin with
the word o, followed by the person's first name: Ō, Khalafalla or Ō,
kēf ya Khalafalla.
Formal greetings often begin with the universal As-salām ˤalaykom
and the reply, Wa ˤalaykom as-salām, an exchange common to Muslims
everywhere. However, other greetings typical to
Sudan include Izzēyak
(to men) or Izzēyik (to women). A rather informal way to say "How are
you", is Inta shadīd? Inti shadīda? "Are you well? (to a male and a
female, respectively)", the response to which is usually al-Hamdo
lillāh "Praise God" assuming you are indeed feeling well, ma batal
"not bad" or nosnos "half-half)" if feeling only okay or taˤban
showayya "a little tired" if not so well. Of course, there can be many
other responses but these are used in everyday language.
Other everyday greetings include kwayyis(a), alhamdulilah "Good,
thanks to allah", Kēf al-usra? "how is the family?" or kēf al
awlād? "how are the children". For friends, the question Kēf? can
also be formed using the person's first name, prefixed by ya, for
example; kēf ya Yōsif? "How are you, Joseph?". Another standard
response in addition to al-hamdu lillāh is Allāh ybarik fik "God's
blessing upon you". Additional greetings are appropriate for
particular times and are standard in most varieties of Arabic, such as
Sabāh al-khēr? / Sabāh an-Nōr.
Sudanese that know each other well will often use many of these
greetings together, sometimes repeating themselves. It is also common
to shake hands on first meeting, sometimes simultaneously slapping or
tapping each other on the left shoulder before the handshake
(particularly for good friends). Handshakes in
Sudan can often last as
long as greetings. A handshake between well-acquainted Sudanese will
often be preceded by raising one's right hand and touching each
other's left shoulder simultaneously before engaging in the handshake,
all while exchanging verbal greetings.
Assenting - saying yes
Arabic word for "yes" depends on the tribe; aye is widely
used, similar to the Scottish aye, although aywa or na‘am are also
This article incorporates text from Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute of
Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 17, by
Royal Anthropological Institute of
Great Britain and Ireland, JSTOR
(Organization), a publication from 1888 now in the public domain in
the United States.
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "Sudanese Arabic".
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
^ Royal Anthropological Institute of
Great Britain and Ireland, JSTOR
(Organization) (1888). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 17. p. 11. Retrieved
^ Bruce Ingham, "Some Characteristics of Meccan Speech", Bulletin of
the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol.
34, No. 2. (1971), pp. 273–297.
Arlette Roth, 1969–1972, Lexique des parlers arabes
tchado-soudanais. An Arabic-English-French lexicon of dialects spoken
in the Chad-
Sudan area compiled by Arlette Roth-Laly, Paris: Editions
du Centre Nationale de la recherche scientifique.
Victoria Bernal, 1991, Cultivating Workers, Peasants and Capitalism in
a Sudanese Village, New York: Colombia University Press, see glossary
Arabic words pp 203–206.
James Dickins. 2008. Online Arabic/English Dictionary of Sudanese
Arabic, and English/
Arabic Dictionary of Sudanese
Arabic available at
James Dickins. 2007a. Sudanese Arabic: Phonematics and Syllable
Structure. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
James Dickins. 2007b. Khartoum Arabic. In The Encyclopedia of Arabic
Language and Linguistics (Vol. 2) (K. Versteegh et al. eds.). Leiden:
Brill. pp. 559–571, available at
James Dickins, 2006. The Verb Base in Central Urban Sudanese Arabic.
In Grammar as a Window onto
Arabic Humanism: A Collection of Articles
in Honour of Michael G. Carter (L. Edzard and Janet Watson, eds.).
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 155–195.
Elizabeth M. Bergman, 2004. Spoken Sudanese Arabic, Grammar, Dialogues
and Glossary, Springfield, VA, Dunwoody Press.
Abdel-Hadi Mohammed Omer, 1984,
Arabic in the Sudanese setting: A
Sociolinguistic study (Language Planning, Diglossia, Standardisation),
Unpublished dissertation, Indiana University (available on Proquest).
Andrew and Janet Persson with Ahmad Hussein, 1979, Sudanese Colloquial
Arabic for beginners, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Horsleys Green,
High Wycombe, United Kingdom: This book is a good introduction to
Arabic as spoken in Khartoum. Text is in both
Arabic and Latin scripts, making it accessible to those that do not
Arabic but want basic conversational skills.
Alan S. Kaye, 1976, Chadian and Sudanese
Arabic in the light of
Arabic dialectology, Mouton: The Hague,
El Rashid Abubakr, 1970, The noun phrase in the spoken
Sudan, Unpublished dissertation, University of London, UK.
J. Spenser Trimmingham, 1946,
Sudan Colloquial Arabic, London, Oxford
University Press, G. Cumberlege.
Vincent Llewllyn Grifiths & Abdel Rahman Ali Taha, 1936, Sudan
courtesy customs; a foreigner's guide to polite phrases in common use
Arabic speaking population of Northern Sudan,
Khartoum, published by the
S. Hillelson, 1935,
Arabic texts, Cambridge, UK: The University
Michel Baumer, 1968, Les noms vernaculaires soudanais utiles à
l'écologiste, Unpublished dissertation, Université de Montpelier,
Randolph Galla, 1997, Kauderwelsch, Sudanesisch-Arabisch Wort für
Wort, Reise Know How-Verlag, Bielefeld, 1. Auflage,
Stefan Reichmuth, 1983, Der arabische Dialekt der Šukriyya in
Ostsudan, Hildesheim, New York: G. Olms (originally authors thesis,
Freie Universität, Berlin), ISBN 3-487-07457-5.
عون الشريف قاسم (ʿAwn al-Sharīf Qāsim), 1972,
قاموس اللهجة العامية في السودان (A
Dictionary of the Vernacular Dialect in the Sudan), الخرطوم:
الدار السودانية للكتاب (Khartoum: Sudanese
Arabic test of at Wikimedia Incubator
Aramati – Sudanese Arabic
An online dictionary of Sudanese Arabic, plus a c. 6,000-word
description of the language
Influence on other languages
Ancient North Arabian
Ancient South Arabian script
Ancient North Arabian
Old South Arabian
Modern South Arabian
Ethnic / religious
Babalia Creole Arabic
Sun and moon letters
Arabic script in Unicode
aSociolinguistically not Arabic
Varieties of Arabic
Central Asian Arabic
Arabic (extinct ancestor of Maltese which is not part of the
Creoles and pidgins
Italics indicate extinct languages.
^ "Documentation for ISO 639 ident