The Info List - Yemeni Arabic

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YEMENI ARABIC is a cluster of varieties of Arabic spoken in Yemen
, southwestern Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
, Somalia
, and Djibouti
. It is generally considered a very conservative dialect cluster, having many classical features not found across most of the Arabic-speaking world.

Yemeni Arabic can be divided roughly into several main dialect groups, each with its own distinctive vocabulary and phonology . The most important of these groups are San'ani, Ta\'izzi-Adeni (also called South Yemeni Arabic or Djibouti
Arabic ), Tihami and Hadhrami . Yemeni Arabic is used for daily communications and has no official status; Modern Standard Arabic
Modern Standard Arabic
is used in official purposes, education, commerce and media.

Non-Arabic south semitic languages indigenous to the region include several Modern South Arabian languages
Modern South Arabian languages
, such as the Mehri and Soqotri languages , which are not Arabic languages, but members of an independent branch of the Semitic family. Another separate Semitic family once spoken in the region is Old South Arabian
Old South Arabian
; these became extinct in the pre-Islamic period with the possible exception of the Razihi . Some of these share areal features with Yemeni Arabic due to influence from or on Yemeni Arabic.

Yemeni Arabic itself is influenced by Himyaritic , Modern South Arabian and Old South Arabian
Old South Arabian
languages and possess significant substratum from these languages.


* 1 San\'ani Arabic dialect * 2 Ta\'izzi Arabic dialect * 3 Ta\'izzi-Adeni Arabic dialect

* 4 Tihamiyya Arabic

* 4.1 Zabidi dialect

* 5 Hadhrami Arabic dialect

* 5.1 Phonology
* 5.2 Morphology * 5.3 Syntax * 5.4 Vocabulary

* 6 Yafi\'i Arabic dialect * 7 Notes * 8 External links


Main article: San\'ani Arabic


The Ta\'izzi Arabic Dialect
is spoken in Taiz, Aden, parts of Ibb.


The Adeni dialect is also very distinct from the rest of the Yemeni dialects. Like the majority of Yemeni dialects, Adeni uses the hard uvular for the classical _qāf_ ( ق ). Like the Taiz dialect, however, Adeni Arabic substitutes dental fricatives for dental plosives, /θ/ becomes /t/, /ð/ becomes /d/, and the two (classical) emphatics, /ðˤ/ and /dˤ/ are both merged into one sound, namely /dˤ/.


Tihamiyya Arabic has many aspects which differentiate it from all other dialects in the Arab world. Phonologically Tihami is similar to the majority of Yemeni dialects, pronouncing the _qāf_ ( ق ) as and the _ǧīm_ ( ج ) as a velar plosive (the _ǧīm_ pronunciation is also shared with Egyptian Arabic ). Grammatically all Tihami dialects also share the unusual feature of replacing the definite article (_al-_) with the prefix (_am-_). The future tense, much like the dialects surrounding Sana\'a , is indicated with the prefix (_š-_), for all persons, e.g. _šabūk am-sūq_ "I will go to the Souq". Some Tihami dialects, such as that spoken in al Hudaydah , are otherwise fairly similar to other Yemeni dialects in grammar and syntax, differing mainly in vocabulary, while others can be so far from any other Arabic dialect that they are practically incomprehensible even to other Yemenis.


Of all the dialects of the Tihama region, the dialect of Zabid displays the most innovations. It shares the transformed definite article of (_am-_) originally used in Himyaritic , with the rest of the Tihami dialects, but it is unique in retaining certain of the declensional suffixes in the nominative case. Indefinite masculine nouns in nominal sentences as well as the subjects of verbal sentences are suffixed with the sound (_-ū_), which stems from the classical suffix (_-un/-u_). Likewise the phonology of the Zabidi sub-dialect is perhaps unique among all Arabic dialects in that it replaces the sound (_ʿain_) ( ع ) with the glottal stop ( ʾ ) ( ء ). In terms of vocabulary, the Zabidi dialect shares very little with other Arabic dialects, in many respects it seems to be a different language. Zabidis use the verb _bāka_, _yabūk_ to mean "to go." The word _goh#d_ and _goh#da_ mean man, and woman, respectively. And the word _fiyān_ to mean "where", hence the phrase: _fiyān bāyku?_ meaning "Where are you going?", which is grammatically parallel to the more familiar: _wayn rāyih?_ of more mainstream dialects.



The Hadhrami dialect in many towns and villages in the _Wādī_ (valley) and the coastal region is characterised by its pronunciation of the voiced palatal plosive (or affricate) ( ج ) as the semi-vowel ( ي ) (_y_) (). In this it resembles some Eastern Arabian and Gulf dialects including the dialects of Basra in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the dialects of the other Arab Emirates. In educated speech, ( ج ) is realised as a voiced palatal plosive () or affricate () in some lexical items.

The ق reflex is pronounced as a voiced velar in all lexical items throughout the dialect. With the spread of literacy and contact with speakers of other Arabic dialects, future sociolinguistic research may reveal whether HA is going to witness innovation like using the uvular /q/ in certain lexemes while retaining the velar /ɡ/ for others.

Wādī HA makes ث / ت , (⟨t⟩, ⟨ṯ⟩) and ذ / د , (⟨d⟩, ⟨ḏ⟩) distinction but ض ⟨ḍ⟩ and ظ ⟨đ̣⟩ are both pronounced ظ whereas Coastal HA merges all these pairs into the stops د , ت and ض (/t/, /d/ and /ḍ/) respectively.

In non-emphatic environments, (ā) is realised as an open front (slightly raised) unrounded vowel. Thus (θānī) “second; psn. name”, which is normally realised with an -like quality in the Gulf dialects, is realised with an quality in HA.

This dialect is characterised by not allowing final consonant clusters to occur in final position. Thus Classical Arabic _bint_ “girl” is realised as _binit_. In initial positions, there is a difference between the Wādī and the coastal varieties of HA. Coastal HA has initial clusters in (bġā) “he wants”, (_bṣal_) “onions” and (_brīd_) “mail (n.)” while Wādī HA realises the second and third words as (_baṣal_) and (barīd) respectively.


When the first person singular comes as an independent subject pronoun, it is marked for gender, thus (anā) for masculine and (anī) for feminine. As an object pronoun, it comes as a bound morpheme, thus (–nā) for masculine and (–nī) for feminine. The first person subject plural is (naḥnā).

The first person direct object plural is (naḥnā) rather than (–nā) which is the case in many dialects. Thus, the cognate of the Classical Arabic (ḍarabanā) “he hit us” is (đ̣arab naḥnā) in HA.

Stem VI, (tC1āC2aC3), can undergo a vowel stem shift to (tC1ēC2aC3), thus changing the pattern vowel (ā) to (ē). This leads to a semantic change as in (tšāradaw) “they ran away suddenly” and (tšēradaw) “they shirk, try to escape”

Intensive and frequentative verbs are common in the dialect. Thus /kasar/ “to break” is intensified to /kawsar/ as in (kōsar fi l - l‘ib) “he played rough”. It can be metathesized to become frequentative as (kaswar min iđ̣-đ̣aḥkāt) “he made a series (lit. breaks) of giggles or laughs”.


The syntax of HA has many similarities to other Peninsular Arabic dialects. However, the dialect contains a number of unique particles used for coordination, negation and other sentence types. Examples in coordination include (kann, lākan) “but; nevertheless, though”, (mā) ( Classical Arabic _ammā)_ “as for…” and (walla) “or”.

Like many other dialects, apophonic or ablaut passive (as in /kutib/ "it was written") is not very common in HA and perhaps is confined to clichés and proverbs from other dialects including Classical Arabic.

The particle /qad/ developed semantically in HA into /kuð/ or /guð / “yet, already, almost, nearly” and /gad/ or /gid/ “maybe, perhaps”.


There are a few lexical items that are shared with Modern South Arabian languages , which perhaps distinguish this dialect from other neighbouring Arabian Peninsula dialects. The effect of Hadrami migration to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
(see Arab Singaporeans ), the Indian subcontinent and East Africa
East Africa
on HA is clear in the vocabulary especially in certain registers like types of food and dress, e.g. (ṣārūn) "sarong". Many loan words were listed in al-Saqqaf (2006):


While there is much about the Lower Yafa 'i dialect that has not been thoroughly studied, it has a very interesting phonological shift. Along with the southern bedouin dialects, in Abyan and Lahej, with which it shares much in common, Yafi'i pronounces the classical _jīm_ ( ج ) as _gīm_, but unlike all other dialects, Yafi'i systematically pronounces the classical sound _ġayn_ (/ʁ/ as _qain_ and _qāf_ as _ġāf_, effectively switching the pronunciation of one letter for the other. An illustration of the phonemic interchange can be seen in the Yafi'i words baġar “cow” and qanam “goat”, which correspond to the classical words baqar “cow” and ġanam “goat”.

Although a similar phonological shift occurs in certain words in the Sudan, the similarities are rather misleading. Whereas the shift is systematic in Yafi', occurring at every instance of the relevant phonemes, in Sudan, it is usually a form of hypercorrection that takes place only in certain classical words. In Sudan, the phoneme is systematically pronounced in all common words, with the pronunciation _ġ_ occurring as a hypercorrection in words such as _istiqlāl_ "independence", pronounced _istighlāl_ (meaning "exploitation" in Standard Arabic).


* ^ Hadhrami Arabic at _ Ethnologue _ (18th ed., 2015) Sanaani Arabic at _ Ethnologue _ (18th ed., 2015) Ta\'izzi-Adeni Arabic at _ Ethnologue _ (18th ed., 2015) * ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Sanaani Arabic". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Hadrami Arabic". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Ta\'izzi-Adeni Arabic". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ Dalby, Andrew (1999). _Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages_. Bloomsbury Pub Ltd. p. 25. ISBN 0231115687 . * ^ Somalia
Ethnologue * ^ _Ethnologue_, "Languages of Djibouti" * ^ "Arabic, Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 February 2014. * ^ http://usir.salford.ac.uk/17631/1/WP%20%282011%29_watson.pdf * ^ * ^ A. Al-Saqqaf (2006): Co-referential devices in Hadramî Arabic, pp. 75-93 _Zeitschrift für Arabische Linguistik _ Issue 46.http://semitistik.uni-hd.de/zal/zal46.htm


_ YEMENI ARABIC TEST _ of at Wikimedia Incubator

* Recording of Yemeni Arabic

* v * t * e

Varieties of Arabic


* _ Old Arabic _


* Classical * Modern Standard