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definition - arabic chat alphabet

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Arabic chat alphabet


The Arabic chat alphabet, Arabizi (Arabic: عربيزي ‘Arabizi [1]), Arabish or Araby, (Arabic: عربي ‘Araby [2]), is an alphabet used to communicate in the Arabic language over the Internet or for sending messages via cellular phones when the actual Arabic alphabet is unavailable for technical reasons. It is a character encoding of Arabic to the Latin script and the Arabic numerals. Users of this alphabet have developed some special notations to transliterate some of the letters that do not exist in the basic Latin script (ASCII).[3]



During the last decades of the 20th century and especially since the 1990s, Western text communication technologies became increasingly prevalent in the Arab world, such as personal computers, the World Wide Web, email, bulletin board systems, IRC, instant messaging and mobile phone text messaging. Most of these technologies originally had the ability to communicate using Latin script only, and some of them still do not have the Arabic alphabet as an optional feature. As a result, Arabic speaking users communicated in these technologies by transliterating the Arabic text in to English using Latin script. To handle those Arabic letters that do not have an approximate phonetic equivalent in the Latin script, numerals and other characters were appropriated. For example, the numeral "3" is used to represent the Arabic letter ⟨ع⟩ (ʿayn ). Many people[who?] use Arabish even when their system supports the Arabic script because they do not always have Arabic keyboards, or because they are more familiar with the QWERTY keyboard layout for typing.

Some people[who?] refer to Arabish as Arabic Chat Alphabet because it was most often used to communicate on online chat services; the main name is "Aralish" or "Arabish" (as "Ara"/"Arab" stands for the first letters of "Arabic" and "Lish"/"ish" stands for the last letters of "English"). In Literary Arabic, the term عربية الدردشة can be constructed, which literally mean "Arabic of chat." Some[who?] call it Franco-Arab, which is the first or one of the first places to use it was Egypt.


Online communications, such as IRC, bulletin board systems, and blogs, are often run on systems or over protocols which don't support codepages or alternate character sets. This system has gained common use and can be seen even in domain names such as Qal3ah.

It is most commonly used by youths in the Arab world in very informal settings, for example communicating with friends or other youths. The Arabic Chat Alphabet is never used in formal settings and is rarely, if ever, used for long communications. The length of any single communication in ACA rarely ever exceeds more than a few sentences at a time.

Even though the Arabic language is well integrated with Windows XP and Mac OS X, people still use it in Arabic forums and instant Messaging programs such as Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger because they don't always have Arabic keyboards. Also, some people are not capable of using an Arabic keyboard as it is much more complicated than the English one.

Arabish is used on many public advertisements by large multinationals.[4] Because of its widespread use, large players in the online industry like Google[5][6] and Microsoft[7] introduced tools that convert text written in Arabish to Arabic.

  Comparison table

Because of the informal nature of this system, there is no single "correct" way, so some character usage overlaps.

Most of the characters in the system make use of the roman character (as used in English and French) that best approximates phonetically the Arabic letter that one wants to express (for example, ب corresponds to b). This may sometimes vary due to regional variations in the pronunciation of the Arabic letter (e.g. might be transliterated as j in the Levantine dialect, or as g in the Egyptian dialect).

Those letters that do not have a close phonetic approximate in the Latin script are often expressed using numerals or other characters, so that the numeral graphically approximate the Arabic letter that one wants to express (e.g. ع is represented using the numeral 3 because the latter looks like a horizontal reflection of the former).

Since many letters are distinguished from others solely by a dot above or below the main character, the conversions frequently used the same letter or number an apostrophe added after or before (e.g. 3' is used to represent غ).

Letters Arabic Chat Alphabet Phonetic Value (IPA)
ء أ ؤ إ ئ آ, etc. 2 ʔ
ا a / e / é [1] æ(ː)~a(ː)~ä(ː)~ɑ(ː)~e(ː)~ɛ(ː)
ب b / p b, p
ت t t~~t͡s
ث s / th s~θ
ج g / j / dj [1] ɡ~ɟ~ʒ~d͡ʒ
ح 7 ħ~ʜ
خ kh / 7' / 5 x~χ
د d d~
ذ z / dh / th z~ð
ر r r~ɾ, ~ɾˤ
ز z z
س s s
ش sh / ch [1] ʃ
ص s / 9 ~s
ض d / 9' d~~d̪ˤ
ط t / 6 ~t~t̪ˤ
ظ z / t' / 6' ~ðˤ
ع 3 ʕ~ʢ̰
غ gh / 3' ɣ~ʁ
ف f / v f, v
ق 2 / g / q / 8 ʔ~ɡ~ɢ~q
ك k / g k, ɡ
ل l l~ɫ
م m m
ن n n
ه h / a / e / ah / eh h, æ~a~ä~ɑ~e~ɐ
ة a / e / ah / eh æ~a~ä~ɑ~e~ɐ
و w / o / u / ou / oo w,  /o(ː)/,  /u(ː)/~y
ي or ى‎ ‎[8][9] y / i / ee / ei / ai / a j,  /i(ː)/,  /e(ː)/,  /a(ː)/
  1. ^ a b c é, ch, dj are likely to be used at regions where French language is the primary foreign language used. dj is especially used in Algerian Arabic.
Additional letters Arabic Chat Alphabet Phonetic Value (IPA)
پ p p
چ j / tsh / ch / tch [2] ʒ~t͡ʃ
ڤ ‎/ ڥ[3] v v
ڨ / گ ‎/ ݣ[3] g ɡ

^2 In Iraq and sometimes Persian Gulf, it may be used to transcribe /t͡ʃ/, but most often transcribed as تش, while in Egypt it's used for transcribing /ʒ/ (which can be a reduction of /d͡ʒ/).
^3 Depending on the region, different letters may be used for the same phoneme.


  Egyptian Arabic

Egyptian Arabic انا رايح الجامعه الساعه 3 العصر الجو عامل ايه النهارده فى إسكندرية؟
Araby transcription ana raye7 el gam3a el sa3a 3 el 3asr. el gaw 3amel eh ennaharda fe eskendereya?
IPA [ʔænæˈrɑˑjeħ elˈɡæmʕæ (ʔe)sˈsæˑʕæ tæˈlæˑtæ lˈʕɑsˤɾ] [elˈɡæwwe ˈʕæˑmel ˈe(ˑhe)nːɑˈhɑɾˤdɑ feskendeˈɾejjæ]
English I'm going to college at 3pm. "How is the weather in Alexandria today?"

  Lebanese Arabic

Lebanese Arabic كيف صحتك، شو عمتعمل؟
Araby transcription kif/keef sa7tak, chou/shu 3am ta3mil?
ALA-LC kīf ṣaḥtak, shū ʻam taʻmil?
IPA [kiːf ˈsˤɑħtak ʃuː ʕam ˈtaʕmɪl]
English How is your health, what are you doing?

  Moroccan Arabic

Moroccan Arabic كيف دير مع القراية؟
Araby transcription kif dayr m3a l9raya?
English "How are you doing with your studies?"


Conservative Muslims, as well as Pan-Arabists and some Arab-nationalists, view Arabish as a detrimental form of Westernization[citation needed]. Arabish emerged amid a growing trend among Arab youth, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, to incorporate English into Arabic as a form of slang. Arabish is used to replace Arabic script, and this raises concerns regarding the preservation of the quality of the language[citation needed].

  See also



  1. ^ http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article366743.ece
  2. ^ Yaghan, M. (2008). "Araby: A Contemporary Style of Arabic Slang. Design Issues 24(2): 39-52.
  3. ^ David Palfreyman; Muhamed al Khalil (November 2003). ""A Funky Language for Teenzz to Use": Representing Gulf Arabic in Instant Messaging". Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (USC Annenberg School for Communication) 9 (1). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol9/issue1/palfreyman.html. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  4. ^ Zain Sami3ny Service using Sami3ny in Arabish as a name
  5. ^ Google Ta3reeb - Arabic Keyboard using Roman Characters
  6. ^ Google Translator auto convert Arabish to Arabic before translation
  7. ^ Microsoft Maren: allowing you to type Arabic in Roman characters and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script
  8. ^ In Egypt, Sudan and sometimes other regions, the final form is always ى (without dots), representing both final /-iː/ and /-aː/.
  9. ^ ى representing final /-a/ is less likely to occur. In this case, it is commonly known as, especially in Egypt, ألف لينة [ˈʔælef læjˈjenæ]. Also called ʾalif maqṣūra. In Egypt, it is always short [-æ, -ɑ] in Egyptian Arabic.

  General references

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