Baghdad Arabic

Baghdad Arabic or the Baghdadi Arabic is the Arabic dialect spoken in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. During the last century, Baghdad Arabic has become the lingua franca of Iraq, and the language of commerce and education. It is a subvariety of Mesopotamian Arabic.

An interesting sociolinguistic feature of Baghdad is the existence of three distinct dialects: Muslim, Jewish and Christian Baghdadi Arabic. Muslim Baghdadi belongs to a group called gilit dialects, while Jewish Baghdadi (as well as Christian Baghdadi) belongs to qeltu dialects.

Baghdadi gilit Arabic, which is considered the standard Baghdadi Arabic, shares many features with varieties spoken in some parts of eastern Syria. Gilit Arabic is of Bedouin provenance, unlike Christian and Jewish Baghdadi, which is believed to be descendant of Medieval Iraqi Arabic. Until the 1950s Baghdad Arabic contained a large inventory of borrowings from English, Turkish, Persian or Kurdish language.

During the first decades of the 20th century, when the population of Baghdad was less than a million, some inner city quarters had their own distinctive speech characteristics, maintained for generations. From about the 1960s, with the population movement within the city, and the influx of large numbers of people hailing mainly from the south, Baghdad Arabic has become more standardized, and has come to incorporate some rural and Bedouin features and Modern Standard Arabic.

Distinct features of Muslim Baghdadi Arabic include the use of 'ani' as opposed to the fusha 'ana' meaning 'I am' and the addition of the suffix 'ich' to verbs with female direct objects, e.g. 'ani gilitlich' meaning 'I told you' whereas maslawis would say: 'ana qeltolki'.

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