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Lebanese Arabic

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Lebanese Arabic
Spoken in Lebanon
Total speakers
Language family Afro-Asiatic
  West Semitic
   Central Semitic
    South-Central Semitic
      Lebanese Arabic
Writing system Arabic alphabet
Official status
Official language in none
Regulated by none
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 ara
ISO 639-3 apc

Lebanese or Lebanese Arabic is the variety of Levantine Arabic spoken mainly in Lebanon though some consider Lebanese a language in its own right.[1] Lebanese dialect shares 80% of its vocabulary with Syrian Arabic, and about 75% with Jordanian and Palestinian Arabic dialects. French, Turkic, English and Persian loanwords make less than 20%, but Aramaic loanwords make up to 40%. Many Lebanese usually mix French, English, Italian, and Russian to some extent into their Lebanese dialect for example, talfinli for call me or telephone me and fraize instead of the arabic farawila for the word strawberry or fraise in French.

Differences from Classical Arabic

Lebanese Arabic shares many featural similarities with other modern varieties of Arabic.

Other Influences

French also had a great influence on Lebanese Arabic, as the educated class tend to mix French during conversation.


  • The following example demonstrates two differences between Standard Arabic and Spoken Lebanese: Coffee (قهوة), pronounced /qahwa/ in Standard Arabic, is pronounced /ahwe/ in Lebanese Arabic. The letter qaaf is not pronounced, and the letter taa marbuta becomes a softer /e/ sound.
  • As a general rule of thumb, the qaaf is dropped from the words in which it appears, and is replaced instead with the hamza or glottal stop, e.g., /daqiqa/ (minute) becomes /da-ee-aa/. This is a feature shared with most dialects of Egyptian Arabic.
  • The exception for this general rule is the Druze of Lebanon who, like the Druze of Syria and Israel, have retained the letter qaaf in the centre of direct neighbours who have substituted the qaaf for the aaf (example: "Heart" is /qalb/ in Arabic, becomes /aleb/ or /alb/ in Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian. The use of qaaf by Druze is particularly prominent in the mountains and less so in urban areas.
  • Unlike most other Arabic dialects, Lebanese has retained the classical diphthongs /aɪ/ and /aʊ/, which were monophthongised into /e/ and /o/ elsewhere. This has changed over time, and today the /e/ has replaced the /ai/, /a/ and /i/ in everyday conversation, and the /o/ has replaced the /au/ and /u/. In singing, the /au/ and /ai/ are maintained for artistic values.

Regional Lebanese Arabic Dialects

Although there is a common Lebanese Arabic dialect mutually understood by most Lebanese, there are regional distinct variations in various parts of the country with at times unique pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

Widely used regional dialects include:

Spelling reform

Lebanese Arabic is rarely written, except in novels where a dialect is implied or in some types of poetry that do not use classical Arabic at all. Lebanese Arabic is also utilized in many Lebanese songs, theatrical pieces, local television and radio productions and very prominently in zajal.

Lebanese Arabic has been popularized throughout the Arab World particularly through Lebanese pan-Arab singers including Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi and many others.

Formal publications in Lebanon, such as newspapers, are typically written in Modern Standard Arabic.

While Arabic script is usually employed, informal usage such as online chat may mix and match Latin letter transliterations. The anti-Arabist poet Saïd Akl proposed the use of the Latin alphabet but did not gain wide acceptance. Whereas some works, such as Romeo and Juliet and Plato's Dialogues have been transliterated using such systems, they have not gained widespread acceptance. Yet, now, most Arabic web users, when short of an Arabic keyboard, transliterate the Arabic words in the Latin alphabet in a pattern almost identical to the Said Akl alphabet, the only difference being the use of numbers to point at the Arabic letters not found in the Latin alphabet.


  • Spoken Lebanese. Maksoud N. Feghali, Appalachian State University. Parkway Publishers, 1999 (ISBN 1-887905-14-6)
  • Michel T. Feghali, Syntaxe des parlers arabes actuels du Liban, Geuthner, Paris, 1928.
  • Elie Kallas, 'Atabi Lebnaaniyyi. Un livello soglia per l'apprendimento del neoarabo libanese, Cafoscarina, Venice, 1995.
  • Angela Daiana Langone, Btesem ente lebneni. Commedia in dialetto libanese di Yahya Jaber, Università degli Studi La Sapienza, Rome, 2004.
  • Jérome Lentin, "Classification et typologie des dialectes du Bilad al-Sham", in Matériaux Arabes et Sudarabiques n. 6, 1994, 11-43.
  • Plonka Arkadiusz, L’idée de langue libanaise d’après Sa‘īd ‘Aql, Paris, Geuthner, 2004, ISBN 2-7053-3739-3
  • Plonka Arkadiusz, "Le nationalisme linguistique au Liban autour de Sa‘īd ‘Aql et l’idée de langue libanaise dans la revue «Lebnaan» en nouvel alphabet", Arabica, 53 (4), 2006, 423-471.
  1. Ager, Simon (2009). "Lebanese arabic, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 2009-11-21. 

External links

Template:Varieties of Arabicar:لهجة لبنانية ceb:Sinultihang Libanesmk:Либански арапски јазик th:ภาษาอาหรับเลบานอน

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