Khuzestani Arabic

Khuzestani Arabic
Native toIran
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Árabe juzestaní.png

Khuzestani Arabic is a dialect of Gelet (Southern) Mesopotamian Arabic spoken by the Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan Province of Iran. It is also considered by most contemporary scholars to be a mix of Southern Mesopotamian Arabic and Gulf Arabic spoken in places such as Kuwait and Eastern Arabia. It has had a long history of contact with Persian language, leading to several changes.[1] The main changes are in word order, noun–noun and noun–adjective attribution constructions, definiteness marking, complement clauses, and discourse markers and connectors.[1][2]

Khuzestani Arabic is only used in informal situations. It is not taught in school, not even as an optional course, although Modern Standard Arabic is taught.[1] Almost all Khuzestani Arabic speakers are bilingual in Arabic and Persian (the official language of Iran).[3] Khuzestani Arabic speakers are shifting to Persian; if the existing shift continues into the next generations, according to Bahrani & Gavami in Journal of the International Phonetic Association, the dialect will be nearly extinct in the near future.[3]


Khuzestani Arabic is spoken in Ahvaz, Hoveyzeh, Bostan, Susangerd, Shush, Abadan, Khorramshahr, Shadegan, Hamidiyeh, Karun, and Bawi.[3]

Contact and lexis

The Khuzestani Arabic dialect is in contact with Bakhtiari Lurish, Persian and Mesopotamian Arabic.[3] Although the lexis of the dialect is primarily composed of Arabic words, it also has Persian, English, French and Turkish loanwords.[3] In the northern and eastern cities of Khuzestan, Luri is spoken in addition to Persian, and the Arabic of the Kamari Arabs of this region is "remarkably influenced" by Luri.[3] In cities in Khuzestan such as Abadan, some of the new generations, especially females, often mainly speak Persian.[3] A number of Khuzestani Arabic speakers furthermore only converse in Persian at home with their children.[3]




Even in the most formal of conventions, pronunciation depends upon a speaker's background.[4] Nevertheless, the number and phonetic character of most of the 28 consonants has a broad degree of regularity among Arabic-speaking regions. Note that Arabic is particularly rich in uvular, pharyngeal, and pharyngealized ("emphatic") sounds. The emphatic coronals (/sˤ/, /dˤ/, /tˤ/, and /ðˤ/) cause assimilation of emphasis to adjacent non-emphatic coronal consonants.[citation needed] The phonemes /p/پ⟩ and /v/ڤ⟩ (not used by all speakers) are only occasionally considered to be part of the phonemic inventory, as they exist only in foreign words and they can be pronounced as /b/ب⟩ and /f/ف⟩ respectively depending on the speaker.[5][6]

Khuzestani Arabic consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic1
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless (p) t k ʔ
voiced b d g
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ~ χ ħ h
voiced (v) ð z ðˤ ɣ ~ ʁ ʕ
Affricate voiceless
voiced d͡ʒ
Tap ɾ
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

Phonetic notes:

  • /p/ and /v/ occur mostly in borrowings from Persian, and may be assimilated to /b/ or /f/ in some speakers.
  • /ɡ/ is pronunciation of /q/ in Khuzestani Arabic and the rest of southern Mesopotamian dialects.
  • The gemination of the flap /ɾ/ results in a trill /r/.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Khuzestani Arabic: a case of convergence
  2. ^ Shabibi, Maryam (2006). Contact-induced grammatical changes in Khuzestani arabic (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.529368.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Bahrani, Nawal; Ghavami, Golnaz Modarresi (2019). "Khuzestani Arabic". Journal of the International Phonetic Association: 1. doi:10.1017/S0025100319000203.
  4. ^ Holes (2004:58)
  5. ^ Teach Yourself Arabic, by Jack Smart (Author), Frances Altorfer (Author)
  6. ^ Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (transl. of Arabisches Wörterbuch für die Schriftsprache der Gegenwart, 1952)

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