North Mesopotamian Arabic

North Mesopotamian Arabic (also known as Moslawi [meaning 'of Mosul'] or Mesopotamian Qeltu Arabic) is a variety of Mesopotamian Arabic spoken north of the Hamrin Mountains in Iraq, in western Iran, northern Syria, and in southeastern Turkey (in the eastern Mediterranean Region, Southeastern Anatolia Region, and southern Eastern Anatolia Region).[3] Like other Mesopotamian Arabic varieties and Levantine Arabic, it shows signs of an Aramaic substrate.[4]

North Mesopotamian Arabic
Native toIraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus
Native speakers
(8.7 million cited 1992-2014)[1]
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3ayp
Yellow: North Mesopotamian Arabic

Cypriot Arabic shares a number of common features with North Mesopotamian Arabic, and one if its pre-Cypriot medieval antecedents has been deduced as belonging to this dialect area.[5][6] However, its current form is a hybrid of different varieties and languages, including Levantine Arabic and Greek.[5]

North Mesopotamian Arabic was once spoken in all of Mesopotamia including what is today Southern Iraq and Khuzestan in Iran (Babylon), the Mesopotamian Gelet was created because of a migration of Bedouins into south and central Mesopotamia after the Mongol invasion. Judeo-Iraqi Arabic is the only remnant of North Mesopotamian that was spoken in the south and represents the pre Mongol invasion Jewish dialects that shows more influence of Akkadian and Eastern Aramaic in them.




Even in the most formal of conventions, pronunciation depends upon a speaker's background.[7] Nevertheless, the number and phonetic character of most of the 28 consonants has a broad degree of regularity among Arabic-speaking regions. Note that Arabic is particularly rich in uvular, pharyngeal, and pharyngealized ("emphatic") sounds. The emphatic coronals (/sˤ/, /tˤ/, and /ðˤ/) cause assimilation of emphasis to adjacent non-emphatic coronal consonants. The phonemes /p/پ⟩ and /v/ڤ⟩ (not used by all speakers) are not considered to be part of the phonemic inventory, as they exist only in foreign words and they can be pronounced as /b/ب⟩ and /f/ف⟩ respectively depending on the speaker.

Mesopotamian Arabic consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic1
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless (p) t k q ʔ
voiced b d
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ~ χ ħ h
voiced (v) ð z ðˤ ɣ ~ ʁ ʕ
Affricate voiceless
voiced d͡ʒ
Tap ɾ
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

Phonetic notes:

  • /p/ and /v/ occur mostly in recent borrowings from European languages, and may be assimilated to /b/ or /f/ in some speakers.
  • The gemination of the flap /ɾ/ results in a trill /r/.

See also


  1. "Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "North Mesopotamian Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  4. R. J. al-Mawsely, al-Athar, al-Aramiyyah fi lughat al-Mawsil al-amiyyah (Lexicon: Aramaic in the popular language of Mosul): Baghdad 1963
  5. Versteegh, Kees (2001). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh University Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-7486-1436-2.
  6. Owens, Jonathan (2006). A Linguistic History of Arabic. Oxford University Press. p. 274. ISBN 0-19-929082-2.
  7. Holes (2004:58)
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