Intro to Palestinian dialect

Here’s a brief summary of some ways in which Palestinian varies from modern standard Arabic (MSA). This is a very simplified look at the dialect, which really varies a lot across a very small geographical area, and consists of three slightly different dialects: urban, rural and bedouin (nomadic) Palestinian.


ق is pronounced in various ways:

* glottal stop (hamza ء) – urban, in towns and cities

* k (kaaf ك) – rural, in smaller villages

* hard g (like Egyptian ج) – Bedouin and in the South, including in Gaza

Some common vocabulary

MSA — Palestinian — English

لماذا        limāðā     — ليش     layš     — Why

ماذا         māðā     — ايش     ayš / شو šū    — What

كيف        kayfa    — كيف     kīf    — How

متى       matā    — إيمتى    īmtā    — When

اين      ayna     — وين     wayn     — Where

من man — مين mīn — Who

Online resources

* LangMedia offers a topic-based course in communicative Palestinian dialect – as spoken in Jordan. This is the dialect you would hear most in urban Jordan, eg. in the capital Amman, but comes originally from the Palestinians who moved into the area to the East of the river Jordan when Israel was founded. There are other dialects in Jordan, including the bedouin Gulf dialect, but these are less common in the cities. This course is ideal for beginners and intermediate students.

* This collection of recordings of native speakers of the dialect of Hebron, al-Khalil, is wonderful for advanced students of Arabic, but perhaps does not have enough supporting textual material for intermediate students. The recordings made up the evidence for the author’s PhD thesis, which he has also published on the same website.

* Wikipedia has quite a detailed academic description

Other resources

* This wonderful book and DVD set has some basic monologues in Palestinian dialect, where Palestinians of various ages discuss everyday topics such as their family, home life, education, work, views on cultural issues, etc.

  • Focus on Contemporary Arabic (Conversations with Native Speakers), by Shukri Abed
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Pap/DVD edition (10 Nov 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 0300109482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300109481

(Conversations with Native Speakers) Shukri Abed


About Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian into English
Aside | This entry was posted in Colloquial Arabic, Speaking, Useful websites and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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