Iraqi Arabic

Iraqi Arabic
Iraqi Arabic
عراقية ʿIrāqī
Pronunciation [ɪˈrɑːki]
Spoken in  Iraq
Region Mesopotamia
Native speakers 35,731,260 (2011 est.)  (date missing)
Language family
Writing system Arabic alphabet
Official status
Official language in  Iraq
Regulated by Iraqi Academy of Sciences
Language codes
ISO 639-3 acm

Iraqi Arabic (also known as Mesopotamian Arabic) is a continuum of mutually intelligible Arabic varieties native to the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq as well as spanning into eastern and northern Syria,[1] western Iran,[1] southeastern Turkey,[2] and spoken in respective Iraqi diaspora communities.



Iraqi Arabic has two major varieties. A distinction is recognised between Mesopotamian Gelet Arabic and Mesopotamian Qeltu Arabic, the appellations deriving from the form of the word for "I said".[3]

The southern Gelet group includes a Tigris dialect cluster, of which the best-known form is Baghdadi Arabic, and a Euphrates dialect cluster, known as Furati (Euphrates Arabic). The Gelet variety is also spoken in the Khuzestan Province of Iran.[1]

The northern Qeltu group includes the north Tigris dialect cluster, also known as North Mesopotamian Arabic or Maslawi (Mosul Arabic), as well as both Jewish and Christian sectarian dialects (such as Baghdad Jewish Arabic).


Both the Gelet and the Qeltu varieties of Iraqi Arabic are spoken in eastern Syria,[1][2] the former is spoken on the Euphrates east of Ar-Raqqah, and the latter is spoken in the Khabur valley and along the Syrian-Turkish border; where it is also spoken throughout southeast Turkey.[2]

Cypriot Arabic shares a large number of common features with Mesopotamian Arabic;[4] particularly the northern variety, and has been reckoned as belonging to this dialect area.[5]


Aramaic was the lingua franca in Mesopotamia from the early 1st millennium BCE until the late 1st millennium CE, and as may be expected; Iraqi Arabic shows signs of an Aramaic substrate.[6] The Gelet variety has retained features of Babylonian Aramaic.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Arabic, Mesopotamian | Ethnologue
  2. ^ a b c Arabic, North Mesopotamian | Ethnologue
  3. ^ Mitchell, T. F. (1990). Pronouncing Arabic, Volume 2. Clarendon Press. p. 37. ISBN 0198239890. 
  4. ^ Versteegh, Kees (2001). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh University Press. p. 212. ISBN 0748614362. 
  5. ^ Owens, Jonathan (2006). A Linguistic History of Arabic. Oxford University Press. p. 274. ISBN 0199290822. 
  6. ^ a b Muller-Kessler, Christa (Jul. - Sep. 2003). "Aramaic 'K', Lyk' and Iraqi Arabic 'Aku, Maku: The Mesopotamian Particles of Existence.". The Journal of the American Oriental Society 123 (3): 641–646. 
  • H. Blanc. 1964. Communal Dialects in Baghdad. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Raymond G. Gordon, Jr, ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

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