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Encyclopedia > Baharna Arabic
Baharna Arabic
Spoken in: Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia 
Region: Persian Gulf
Total speakers: about 310,000
Language family: Afro-Asiatic
  West Semitic
   Central Semitic
    South-Central Semitic
      Baharna Arabic 
Writing system: Arabic alphabet 
Official status
Official language of: none
Regulated by: none
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2:
ISO 639-3: abv

Baharna Arabic is a dialect of the Arabic language spoken by the Baharna Shia of Bahrain and some parts of Saudi Eastern Province, and also in Oman. Map of the Persian Gulf. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families Most languages are known to belong to language families. ... The Afro-Asiatic languages constitute a language family with about 375 languages (SIL estimate) and more than 300 million speakers spread throughout North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, and Southwest Asia (including some 200 million speakers of Arabic). ... 14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Tell Amarna. ... 14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Tell Amarna. ... 12th century Hebrew Bible script The Semitic languages are a family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people across much of the Middle East, where they originated, and North and East Africa. ... Arabic ( or just ) is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. ... Writing systems of the world today. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing Arabic and various other languages, together with various closely related scripts that typically differ in the presence or absence of a few letters. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ... Not to be confused with the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of the sounds of human speech. ... Unicode is an industry standard designed to allow text and symbols from all of the writing systems of the world to be consistently represented and manipulated by computers. ... This chart shows concisely the most common way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is applied to represent the English language. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Arabic ( or just ) is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. ... The Baharna (Arabic: ‎ } are the indigenous inhabitants of the villages and some of the coastal shores of the archipelago of Bahrain and the cities of Qatif and Al-Hasa on the Arabian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia (see historical region of Bahrain). ... Shiʻa Islam (Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite) makes up the second largest sect of believers in Islam, constituting about 30%–35% of all Muslim. ... Eastern Province (Arabic الشرقية Ash Sharqiyah) is the largest province of Saudi Arabia, located in the east of the country on the coasts of the Persian Gulf, and has borders with Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. ...

In Bahrain, the dialect is spoken in the capital, Manama, and in the Shia villages. The Sunnis speak a Gulf dialect which is more similar to those spoken in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain from space, June 1996 Manama (Arabic: المنامة Al-Manāmah) is the capital city of Bahrain and is the countrys largest city with a population of approximately 155,000, roughly a quarter of countrys entire population. ... Sunni Islam (Arabic سنّة) is the largest denomination of Islam. ... Gulf Arabic or The Persian Gulf Arabic is a variety of the Arabic language spoken around both shores of the Persian Gulf, mainly in Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and parts of Oman. ...

In Saudi Arabia, Qatif and neighbouring towns and villages are the main center of the dialect. These are distinct from the dialects of Al-Hasa, the other major population center in the Eastern Province. Qatif (Arabic: القطيف al-QaTiif) is a historic coastal city and oasis located on the western shore of the Arabian/Persian Gulf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, some 13km north of the port city of Dammam and southwest of major oil port Ras Tanura. ... Ash Sharqiyah, known as Eastern Province is the largest province of Saudi Arabia, located in the east of the country on the coasts of the Persian Gulf, and has borders with Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. ...

The differences between Baharna Arabic and neighboring Sunni dialects suggest differing historical origins. Most of the Sunnis in the region are relatively recent immigrants, many of them originally Bedouin Najdi tribes. These Sunnis now speak Gulf dialects which are very distinct from Najdi and Bedouin dialects, and which are much more similar to the Bahrani dialects. In Bahrain, the main differences between Sunni and Shia speech are evident certain grammatical forms and especially pronunciation and accent. Baharna Arabic uses the 'j' as opposed to replacing it in most words with 'y' which is used quite often by the Sunnis who speak Gulf Arabic. This feature once again makes Baharna Arabic closer to Classical Arabic than Gulf Arabic. Most of the vocabulary, however, is shared between both dialects and distinctly Bahraini, arising from a shared modern history. Many Bahrani words were borrowed from Hindi or English (e.g. from Hindi: bānka 'ceiling fan', also mess, rubble, sōmān 'equipment, stuff. From English lētar 'lighter', wīl 'wheel', tēm 'time: appointment', fanari 'refinery', among oil workers). Some of these words are used more frequently than others. A Bedouin man resting on a hillside at Mount Sinai Bedouin, derived from the Arabic ( ‎), a generic name for a desert-dweller, is a term generally applied to Arab nomadic pastoralist groups, who are found throughout most of the desert belt extending from the Atlantic coast of the Sahara via...

Baharna dialect has borrowed some vocabulary from Persian, Hindi and more recently from English. Despite commercial and cultural intercourse with Persia in the past, the Persian element is relatively very small and is concerned mainly with novelties introduced from Persia. Persian (Local names: فارسی Fârsi or پارسی Pârsi)* is an Indo-European language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan as well as by minorities in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Southern Russia, neighboring countries, and elsewhere. ... Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी or हिंदी; IPA: ), an Indo-European language spoken mainly in northern and central India, is one of the official languages of the Union government of India [1][2]. It is part of a dialect continuum of the Indic family, bounded on the northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...



Baharna Arabic (called Baħrāni by its speakers) has the main features of Persian Gulf dialects (eg Kuwait, UAE, Qatar) in addition to its own unique features. General features include Standard Arabic q becoming g (qamar vs gamar 'moon'), k becoming ch in some positions (kalb vs chalb 'dog'). J becomes y in some villages (jiħħe vs yiħħe 'watermelon'). Final Standard Arabic -ah becomes -e in some positions. Unique features include changing th and dh into f and d.Many younger speakers avoid such pronunciations, however. Map of the Persian Gulf. ...

Bahrani grammar is similar to other Gulf dialects but includes the distinctive 'eh' sound that is used at the end of sentences to indicate a question, eg ente rāyeħ-eh? are you going?.

Baharna Vocabulary

  • chalb: dog (ch replaces the k)
  • doshak or doshag: bed (Persian loanword)
  • jih جح : watermelon
  • saman سامان: equipment (Hindi loanword)
  • nokhada : ship captain
  • dareesha : window (Persian loanword)
  • dirwaza : gate (Persian loanword)
  • balang : matress/bed (Hindi loanword)

Further reading

  • Mahdi Abdalla Al-Tajir. 1983. Language and Linguistic Origins in Bahrain: The Baharnah Dialect of Arabic. ISBN 0-7103-0024-7
  • Clive Holes. 1987. Language Variation and Change in a Modernising Arab State: The Case of Bahrain. ISBN 0-7103-0244-4

External links



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