The local Arabic dialects spoken by the Bedouin tribes differ from Egyptian in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, although Bedouins can switch between dialects depending on who they speak to. Different tribes have different dialects and use some different words. Bedouins nowadays speak a mixture of Egyptian (Amiya) and Bedouin Arabic and some of the younger generation already speak the Egyptian dialect only.
The main difference, for those speaking only a little of the language, is the way some of the sounds are pronunciated. Mountain, for example, would be “gabal” in Egyptian while “jabal” in Bedouin dialects, as in most of the other Gulf Arab dialects. In fact, Bedouin Arabic is considered closer to fus-ha, the classical language than Egyptian. Other difference easy to pick is the “qaf” sound, which is pronunciated as a glottal stop in Egyptian while close to the sound “g” in Bedouin. Thus coffee or coffee house is “ahua” in Egyptian while “gahua” in Bedouin.
Following is a list of useful words and expressions, written in the Bedouin pronunciation. Words only used by Bedouin are marked with a B.
|Tariq, darb||Road, path||Nahla||Date palm|
An English-Arabic / Arabic-English dictionary is available now from Discover Sinai.
Arabic by Suliman Subail el Heneny and Said Mahmoud Salah
English-Arabic dictionary based on the local Egyptian-Bedouin dialect. With 4 columns to make the dictionary work 2-ways: English word, pronunciation of corresponding Arabic word written phonetically, English word written in Arabic, pronunciation of English word written in Arabic.
Part of the free publication titled “Discover Sinai: A guide to the natural, cultural and historical faces of South Sinai”, the dictionary can be downloaded separately. 28 A4 pages, black-and-white, easy and cheap to photocopy – and also allowed to do so.