Syrian Arabic

Syrian Arabic refers to any of the Arabic varieties spoken in Syria,[1] or specifically to Levantine Arabic.[2][3]

Aleppo, Idlib, and Coastal dialectsEdit

Aleppo and surroundingsEdit

Characterized by the imperfect with a-: ašṛab ‘I drink’, ašūf ‘I see’,[1] and by a pronounced[4] ʾimāla of the type sēfaṛ/ysēfer, with subdialects:[4]

  1. Muslim Aleppine
  2. Christian Aleppine
  3. Rural dialects similar to Muslim Aleppine
  4. Mountain dialects
  5. Rural dialects
  6. Bēbi (əlBāb)
  7. Mixed dialects

Idlib and surroundingsEdit

These dialects are transitional between the Aleppine and the Coastal and Central dialects.[4] They are characterized by *q > ʔ, ʾimāla of the type the type sāfaṛ/ysēfer[1] and ṣālaḥ/yṣēliḥ,[4] diphthongs in every position,[4][1] a- elision (katab+t > ktabt, but katab+it > katabit),[1] išṛab type perfect,[1] ʾimāla in reflexes of *CāʔiC, and vocabulary such as zbandūn "plow sole".[4]

Coast and coastal mountains[1]Edit

These dialects are characterized by diphthongs only in open syllables: bēt/bayti ‘house/my house’, ṣōt/ṣawti ‘voice/my voice’, but ā is found in many lexemes for both *ay and *aw (sāf, yām).[4][1] There is pronounced ʾimāla.[4] Unstressed a is elided or raised to i and u whenever possible: katab+t > ktabt, katab+it > katbit, sallam+it > sallmit, sallam+t > sillamt, ḥaṭṭ+ayt > ḥiṭṭayt, trawwaq+t > truwwaqt, *madrasa > madrsa > mádǝrsa ~ madírsi, *fallāḥ > fillāḥ.[1][4] The feminine plural demonstrative pronoun is hawdi, or haydi.[4] It can be divided into several subdialects:[4]

  1. Transitional between Idlib and the northern coastal dialects
  2. Northern coastal dialects (Swaydīye)
  3. Northern coastal dialects
  4. Lattakia
  5. Central coastal dialects
  6. Mḥardi
  7. Banyās
  8. Southern coastal dialects
  9. Tartūs, Arwad
  10. Alawite and Ismaelite dialects

Central dialectsEdit

In this area, predominantly *ay, aw > ē, ō. Mostly, there is no ʾimāla, and a-elision is only weakly developed. Word-final *-a > -i operates. Several dialects exist in this area:


Leans toward the Idlib and Coastal dialects. Preservation of *q, 2nd masc. inti, 2nd fem. inte, feminine forms in the plural intni katabtni, hinni(n) katabni

Tayybet əlʔImām / SōrānEdit

Preservation of interdentals. 2/3 pl. masc. ending -a: fatahta, falaha, tuktúba, yuktúba. 2nd plural m/f inta - intni. 3rd plural m/f hinhan - hinhin. The perfect of the primae alif verbs are ake, axe. In the imperfect, yāka, yāxa. The participle is mēke.


Characterized by *q > ʔ

Central-South w/ *q > qEdit

Preservation of *q

Central-South w/ *q > ʔEdit

Characterized by *q > ʔ

Bedouin-Sedentary mixed dialectEdit

Preservation of interdentals and terms like alhaz "now".

Central Syrian dialect continuum, steppe dialects and steppe's edge[4]Edit


Characterized by *q > k, *g > c [ts], *k > č, and ʾimāla of type *lisān > lsīn. Distinctive pronouns are 3pl.c. aham and 2sg.f. suffix -či. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at, and i-Type perfects take the form ʾílbis "he got dressed".[4]


Characterized by preserved *q, *g > č, and unconditioned ʾimāla in hēda. Distinctive pronouns are 3pl. ahu - hinna, and 2sg.f. suffix -ki. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at, and i-Type perfects take the form ʾílbis "he got dressed".[4]


Characterized by preserved *q and unconditioned ʾimāla in hēda. Distinctive pronouns are 3pl. hunni - hinni. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at, and i-Type perfects take the form lbīs "he got dressed".[4]


Characterized by preserved *q and pronouns 3pl. hūwun - hīyin. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at.[4]


Characterized by preserved *q and the changes masaku > masakaw# and masakin > masake:n# in pause. Distinctive pronouns are 3pl.c. hinne, and the suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at.[4]


Characterized by *q > ʔ, and *ay, *aw > ā. The shifts *CaCC > CiCC/CuCC and *CaCaC > CaCōC take place. The ʾimāla is of the i-umlaut type. Distinctive pronouns are 2sg.f. suffix -ke. The a-Type perfects take the form ḍarōb and the i-type lbēs. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -et, with allophony ḍarbet - ḍárbatu.[4]

Eastern QalamūnEdit

Characterized by *q > ʔ and ʾimāla of the i-umlaut type. Distinctive pronouns are 3sg.m. suffix -a/-e. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -at.[4]


Characterized by *q > ʔ and unconditioned ʾimāla in hēda. Distinctive pronouns are 2sg.f. suffix -ki.[4] The 1sg perfect conjugation is of the type katabtu, similar to the qǝltu dialects of Iraq. Also like qǝltu dialects, it has lengthened forms like ṣafṛā "yellow [fem.]".[1]


The Qalamūn dialects have strong links to Central Lebanese.[4] The short vowels i/u are found in all positions. Pasual kbīr > kbeyr# and yrūḥ > yrawḥ#. The a-elision is not strongly pronounced. Shortening of unstressed long vowels is characteristic: *sakākīn > sakakīn ‘knives’, fallōḥ/fillaḥīn ‘peasant/peasants’, or fillōḥ/filliḥīn, as in Northwest Aramaic.[1] Conservation of diphthongs and *q > ʔ are common, as well as splitting of ā into ē and ō. As for negation, the type mā- -š is already attested along with the simple negation.


No interdentals


No interdentals

Central QalamūnEdit

Conservation of interdentals, subdialects:

  1. ʿĒn itTīne
  2. Central, tends to East Qalamūn
  3. Rās ilMaʿarra
  4. Gubbe
  5. Baxʿa
  6. Maʿlūla
  7. GubbʿAdīn

Southern QalamūnEdit

Conservation of interdentals, a-elision katab+t > ktabt, distinctive pronouns are 3pl.c. hunni. Subdialects are:

  1. ʿAssāl ilWard, ilHawš
  2. ʿAkawbar, Tawwane, Hile
  3. Hafīr ilFawqa, Badda
  4. Qtayfe
  5. Sēdnāya
  6. Maʿarrit Sēdnāya
  7. Rankūs
  8. Talfita
  9. Halbūn
  10. Hafīr itTahta
  11. itTall
  12. Mnin
  13. Drayj

Northern Barada valleyEdit

No interdentals, conservation of diphthongs

  1. Sirgāya
  2. Blūdān
  3. izZabadāni
  4. Madāya

Damascus and surroundingsEdit

Transitional Damascus - QalamūnEdit

These dialects have no interdentals, no diphthongs, and a reflex of *g > ž. The suffix of the verbal 3sg a-Type is -it, ḍarab+it > ḍárbit.[4] The short vowels i/u are found in all positions. Demonstrative plural pronoun hadunke.


Other dialects, accents, and varietiesEdit

Horan dialectsEdit

The Hauran area is split between Syria and Jordan and speak largely the same dialect

  1. Central dialects
  2. Gēdūri (transitional)
  3. Mountain dialects
  4. Zāwye (transitional)
  5. Mixed dialect Čanāčer/Zāčye

Mount Hermon and Jabal idDrūz areaEdit

Dialects of Mount Hermon and Druze have a Lebanese origin[4]

  1. Autochthonous sedentary dialects
  2. Mount Hermon dialect
  3. Druze dialect

Sedentary East SyrianEdit

Mesopotamian (Turkey)Edit

  1. Qsōrāni
  2. Tall Bēdar
  3. Mardilli
  4. Azxēni (ǝlMālkīye)

Mesopotamian (Syria)Edit

  1. Dēr izZōr
  2. Albū Kmāl


  1. Xātūnī

Bedouin dialectsEdit

Shawi Arabic and Najdi Arabic are also spoken in Syria.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Behnstedt, Peter (2011-05-30). "Syria". Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics.
  2. ^ Stowasser, Karl (2004). A Dictionary of Syrian Arabic: English-Arabic. Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1-58901-105-2. OCLC 54543156.
  3. ^ Cowell, Mark W. (1964). A Reference Grammar of Syrian Arabic. Georgetown University Press. OCLC 249229002.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Behnstedt, Peter (1997). Sprachatlas von Syrien (in German). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-04330-4.

External linksEdit