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Iraqi Arabic

Iraqi Arabic

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Iraqi Arabic is a continuum of mutually intelligible Arabic varieties
Varieties of Arabic
The Arabic language is a Semitic language characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties within its five regional forms. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. The Arabic of North Africa, for example, is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker...

 native to the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n basin of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 as well as spanning into eastern and northern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, western Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, southeastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, and spoken in respective Iraqi diaspora
Iraqi diaspora
The Iraqi diaspora refers to native Iraqis who have left for other countries as emigrants or refugees, and is now one of the largest in modern times, being described by the UN as a "humanitarian crisis" largely due to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq....

 communities.

Varieties


Iraqi Arabic has two major varieties. A distinction is recognised between Mesopotamian Gelet Arabic and Mesopotamian Qeltu Arabic, the appellations deriving from the form of the word for "I said".

The southern Gelet group includes a Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

 dialect cluster, of which the best-known form is Baghdadi Arabic
Baghdad Arabic
Baghdad Arabic or the Baghdadi Arabic is the Arabic variety 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...

, and a Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 dialect cluster, known as Furati (Euphrates Arabic). The Gelet variety is also spoken in the Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

 of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

The northern Qeltu group includes the north Tigris dialect cluster, also known as North Mesopotamian Arabic
North Mesopotamian Arabic
North Mesopotamian Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken north of the Hamrin Mountains in Iraq, in northwestern Iran in northern Syria, and in southeastern Turkey...

 or Maslawi (Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 Arabic), as well as both Jewish
Judeo-Iraqi Arabic
Judeo-Iraqi Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken by Jews living or formerly living in Iraq. 99% of all speakers now live in Israel. Speakers are older adults....

 and Christian sectarian dialects (such as Baghdad Jewish Arabic).

Distribution


Both the Gelet and the Qeltu varieties of Iraqi Arabic are spoken in eastern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, the former is spoken on the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 east of Ar-Raqqah, and the latter is spoken in the Khabur valley
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and along the Syrian-Turkish border; where it is also spoken throughout southeast Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Cypriot Arabic
Cypriot Maronite Arabic
Cypriot Arabic, known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Maronite community of Cyprus. Most speakers are situated in the capital, Nicosia, while others are located in Kormakitis and Limassol...

 shares a large number of common features with Mesopotamian Arabic; particularly the northern variety, and has been reckoned as belonging to this dialect area.

History


Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 was the lingua franca in Mesopotamia from the early 1st millennium BCE until the late 1st millennium CE, and as may be expected; Iraqi Arabic shows signs of an Aramaic substrate. The Gelet variety has retained features of Babylonian Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

.