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Qatari Arabic
Thread poster: ArabInk
Local time: 10:21
English to Arabic
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Sep 3, 2004

I'll be on my way to Qatar sometime this fall. Can anybody help me with the dialect? Is it more like Saudi or more like Iraqi? There are some books available for Iraqi and also some for Hejazi (US Foreign Service materials) but I don't know which is best.

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Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:21
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
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(possibly) useful books Sep 3, 2004

Hello there,
I'm not an expert on Arabic dialectology, but I have heard from friends who have travelled to the region that Qatari Arabic is quite similar to Gulf Arabic. Of course, there are probably slight regional variations, but that happens to all languages and in all places. A couple of books that were used to teach people who wanted to learn Gulf Arabic when I was at university and which were considered quite good were:
C. Holes, Gulf Arabic, Routledge, 1990
and C. Holes, Colloquial Arabic of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, Routledge, 1984
I hope that's of some help, although the correct materials would really depend on the purpose of your travel.
Have a good trip!

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R Farhat  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:21
Member (2004)
English to Arabic
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Qatari dialect Sep 3, 2004

I could say it is more like eastern-Saudi, UAE and Kuwait dialects. It is not similar to Iraqi, and in general, it's only the pronounciation that sounds similar -that is the "tone".
It's not difficult to understand at all, and mainly, the Gulf dialects are more likely closer to plain Arabic. So I guess you won't have a problem after a couple of weeks there.
good luck.

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Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
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Closer to Bahraini Sep 6, 2004

The Qataris I have met spoke a dialect that was closest to the Bahraini dialect. It is certainly very different from the Iraqi dialect.

The Iraqi dialect is unique among Arab dialect. Nothing even comes close. The Kuwaiti dialect has a slight affinity to the Iraqi dialect due to close interaction, but remains very different.

The Qatari dialect definitely fits within the Gulf group of dialects, but cannot be easily compared to the dialect of UAE simply because there are so many different dialects in UAE, with very strong Omani influence in some areas.

The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (where I come from) is also quite varied. One can easily discern the following variety:

- The Hasawi dialect: Unique for its long penultimate vowels and its strong nazal quality. The long A is strictly Persian ("Khalid" is pronounced "Kholed"). The same vowel prevails in most of Bahrain, but not quite as strongly in Qatar. The most unusual feature in the Hasawi dialect is the first person possessive. Example: `AMMI ("my uncle") is pronounced 'AMYA (sounds like the feminine form of "blind"). This feature is found in some other Gulf regions (e.g., some of the villages to the north and south of Qatif, Saudi Arabia).

- The City of Qatif (my hometown) has a dialect all its own, with strong articulation, minimal color, and an abundance of untranslatable particles that express the attitude of the speaker (surprise, rhetorical questions, sarcasm, urging, pleading, making a logical connection, etc.). The J sound remains J, unlike in most other Gulf regions, where it is pronounced like Y. And the second person singular possessive is pronounced ISH, not ICH. Also, Qatifis uniquely have two forms of the first person singular nominative, one for males (ANA), the other for females (ANI).

- The rural areas surrounding Qatif (Qudaih, Awwamiyya, Safwa, Khuwaildiyya, Jaroodiyya, Umm Al-Hamam, Sanabis, Saihat, Tarut, Darin, etc.) have a slightly different set of dialects. Among other things, the J reverts to the Y sound, and the soft AY diphthong sounds like the diphthong used in formal speech (Modern Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic), which is also used in Lebanon in Yemen.

- In the rest of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Inak, Dammam, Khobar, Zhahran (or Dhahran), Thuqba, Jubail, Umm El-Sahik, Awjam, etc.), one can hear a blend of Central Arabian and Eastern Arabian.

I don't know that there is any good book on any Gulf dialect in print.

[Edited at 2004-09-06 16:08]

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:21
English to Arabic
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References re Qatari Arabic Sep 10, 2004


In addition to the two references cited in an earlier post in this thread, you might consider these (per your available time, previous background in Arabic, and your schedule in Qatar):

1. Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic, by Jack Smart and Frances Altorfer
(Paperback with accompanying audiocassette tape, IIRC)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 edition (July 1, 2004)
ISBN: 0071434534
(Available on < >)

Its contents are organized with likely situations for the casual traveler / tourist / visitor

2. Eastern Arabian Dialect Studies by (the late) Thomas M. Johnstone (Allah yerHimuh wa al-ghafoor lah)
London: Oxford University Press, 1967
(While now out of print, this should be available via library search and interlibrary loan. This work is a keystone and detailed intro to Gulf Arabic, akin to Chaim Blanc's earlier classic "Ancient West Arabian" that treats the other side of the peninsula.)

There is an Arabic translation by Ahmad M. Al-Dhubaib, Ph.D., as an authorized translation and publication by the University of Riyadh (now King Saud University) Press, Riyadh, 1975

3. Hamdi Qafisheh's series of paperbacks on Gulf Arabic (GA) (actually Emirati, next door) published by the U. of Arizona Press and still available.
(His EN > GA dictionary, published by NTC, is of questionable utility, for various reasons, and might best be avoided.)

HTH. Enjoy Qatar (especially the new "University City" complex if you have the chance) and the Qataris.


Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California

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