Egypt's Spoken Arabic Dialects

May 31, 2017

Egypt, officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, is an Arabic speaking country that connects Northeast Africa and Southeast Asia. Egypt has the largest population in North Africa and the Arab world. Egypt's 95 million inhabitants mainly reside around the Nile River shores. The official language used in Egypt is Modern Standard Arabic, which is the written form that is understood among all Arabic speakers. However, there are several spoken dialects used across Egypt.

The History of Egypt's Languages

 

Egypt Spoken Arabic Dialects - 1The Arabic language was introduced to Egypt in the 7th century with the Islamic conquest and has been the country's official language ever since. However, the first written language in Egypt was the hieroglyphic language, which is found in the inscriptions preserved on temples, monuments and sheets of papyrus illustrating the life of ancient Egyptians. The hieroglyphic language combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements and was used from 3200 B.C. until the 4th century A.D. The Coptic language was widely used until 1700 B.C. and is now only used in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Egypt's Spoken Arabic Dialects

 

Currently, there are several spoken dialects used across Egypt. These dialects are all derived from written Arabic, but they get complicated near Egypt's borders. In their most complicated forms, they might not be fully understood by all Egyptian Arabic speakers unless the speaker tries to simplify it. Below are some of these dialects:

 

  • Massry: This is the most widely-spoken Arabic dialect, and is spoken mainly by the inhabitants of Egypt's capital city, Cairo, and the surrounding cities. This dialect was derived from the spoken Arabic form that came to Egypt with Islam and was later influenced by the local Coptic language and other foreign languages such as Italian, Turkish, English and French.

  • Saidi: This is the dialect spoken by Saidi people who live in Southern Egypt near the Sudan border. It differs slightly in the cities along the Nile and gets more complicated farther south, where it has some similarities with Sudanese Arabic.

  • Bedawi: This is the dialect spoken by the Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula and the eastern parts of Egypt. It is also spoken in neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia. Bedawi is made up of several dialects including Levantine Bedawi Arabic and Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic.

Egypt Spoken Arabic Dialects - 2

Egypt's Non-Arabic Dialects

 

In addition to the many Arabic dialects, there are also numerous non-Arabic spoken dialects, including the following:

 

  • Nubian: This is spoken by the Nubians living in the Southern Egyptian Nile Valley and the northern region of Sudan.

  • Berber (or Amazigh): This is spoken by Egyptian Berbers living in the Siwa and Gara oases in the western desert. They live in the region from the Siwa oasis extending west to the Atlantic Ocean through Libya, Algeria and Morocco.

  • Domari: This is spoken by Dom people, who are concentrated north of Cairo and in Luxor. It is also spoken in other countries like Azerbaijan, Sudan and Libya.

  • Beja: This is an Afro-asiatic dialect spoken in the western coast of the Red Sea by the Beja people, who are an ethnic group in Sudan, some parts of the Egyptian Eastern Desert and Eritrea.

Summary

 

Other than Arabic, there are some foreign languages such as English, French and Italian that are also used in Egypt because of foreign trade and tourism. English is the most common of these languages, as it is one of the languages taught in schools. It is also used in commercials and streets signs so it is common that Egyptians have a fair understanding of English. French is also common among elderly people, especially those who attended French schools.

Further Resources on Arabic Localization, Arabic Globalization and Arabic SEO

 

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. Due to increased demand for projects in Arabic and other BiDi languages, like Farsi, we have posted a number of useful guides to best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:

 

 

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.

 

Sources:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Arabic

http://www.studycountry.com/guide/EG-language.html

Category:
Country Specific
Tags:
Arabic, Egypt

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Ahmed is a native Arabic speaker from Egypt, Cairo. He has over 12 years’ experience in the translation and localization field working as a Hebrew – Arabic translator and editor. He has also held positions for language Testing Engineer and Localization Project Manager. Ahmed has extensive experience in handling large volume translation projects for software and document localization. He has worked for a range of translation and localization groups and companies including Microsoft, Babylon, Saudisoft, as well as several governmental authorities. He holds a B.A. degree in Translation and Interpreting from Faculty of Alsun Ain Shams University and additionally is a certified Hebrew - Arabic translator with a High Translation professional diploma from the same faculty. He is a published author translating news articles and writing political analysis with contributions to an array of research centers and newspapers including AL Aharam, Beirut Political Centre, Aldiplomasy Magazine, and Lindro Italian News, to name a few. In his free time Ahmed likes swimming, shooting and reading about new ideas.