Saʽidi Arabic

Ṣaʽīdi Arabic (autonym: صعيدى [sˤɑˈʕiːdi], Egyptian Arabic: [sˤeˈʕiːdi]), also known as Upper Egyptian Arabic,[4] is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Ṣaʽīdi people south of Cairo, Egypt, to the border of Sudan.[5] It shares linguistic features with both Egyptian Arabic and the Quran's Classical Arabic. Dialects include Middle and Upper Egyptian Arabic.

Saʽīdi Arabic
Native toEgypt
Native speakers
22.4 million (2016)[1]
Arabic alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3aec

Speakers of Egyptian Arabic do not always understand more conservative varieties of Ṣaʽīdi Arabic.[6]

Ṣaʽīdi Arabic carries little prestige nationally, but it continues to be widely spoken, including in the north by rural migrants who have partially adapted to Egyptian Arabic. For example, the Ṣaʽīdi genitive exponent is usually replaced with Egyptian bitāʿ, but the realisation of /q/ as [ɡ] is retained (normally realised in Egyptian Arabic as [ʔ]).

Saidi Arabic has many sub-dialects and varies widely from a town to town. Because of the tribal nature of Upper Egypt, and because many of the Upper Egyptian Tribes are originally from Hejaz, or Maghreb, traces of Hejazi Arabic, and Libyan Arabic could be vividly noticed in many sub-dialects. For example the word "قعمز" meaning sit, is used throughout the Maghreb continues to be widely used in Upper Egypt. Furthermore, in addition to similar pronunciation of letters with Hejazi cities such as Jeddah and Makkah, words such as "لسع" meaning "Still", "بسة" meaning "cat, "قمرية" meaning "Wild Pigeon" are used in Hejaz and is in wide use in Upper Egypt. Other examples are words such as "فروج" meaning "chicken", as opposed to "فرخة" that is used in Northern Egypt.

Second- and third-generation Ṣaʽīdi migrants are monolingual in Egyptian Arabic but maintain cultural and family ties to the south.

The Egyptian poet Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi wrote in his native Sa'idi.



Ṣaʽīdi Arabic has the following consonants:[7]

Nasal mn
Plosive voiceless tkʔ
voiced bdɡ
Fricative voiceless fsʃχħh
voiced zʁʕ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ*
Trill r
Approximant wlj
  • ^* /d͡ʒ/ may also be realised as [ʒ] or as [d], when it merges with /d/.


Front Central Back
High i(ː) u(ː)
Low ä

See also


  1. "Arabic, Sa'idi Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Saidi Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "a" (PDF). The Linguasphere Register. p. 128. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  4. "Arabic, Sa'idi Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  5. Versteegh, p. 163
  6. Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  7. Khalafallah 1969


  • Khalafallah, Abdelghany A. 1969. A Descriptive Grammar of Sa'i:di Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Janua Linguarum, Series Practica 32. The Hague: Mouton.
  • Versteegh, Kees (2001). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-1436-2.

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