3arabizi - When Local Arabic Meets Global English


  • Robert Michael BIANCHI Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar




Arabic, English, script, CMC, globalization


Arabic is the official language of Jordan. Yet, English is a language of prestige among many upwardly mobile Jordanians. Sakarna (2006) dubs a hybrid language comprised of a mixture of these two languages “Englo-Arabic”. In online contexts, a similar hybrid language has emerged. Often popularly labeled “3arabizi” or “Arabish”, a blended word based on the words “Arabic” and “English”, this mixed code is the most commonly encountered form of language for composing forum messages on the popular Jordanian website, Mahjoob.com (http://www.mahjoob.com). The most striking feature of 3arabizi is that it is written in Latin script and uses arithmographemics i.e. numbers as letters to represent Arabic sounds that do not occur in English. This article presents the key orthographical features of 3arabizi and discusses its topical occurrence when compared to both Arabic and English as observable within a purposive sample of web forum messages collected from Mahjoob.com.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Robert Michael BIANCHI, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar

Robert Bianchi holds a PhD from Lancaster University in Applied Linguistics. He is an assistant professor in the English Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, where he teaches literature, freshman composition, and discourse analysis. He has been teaching for over 20 years. An avid language learner, Robert has varying degrees of proficiency in some 15 languages. His research interests include bilingualism, code-switching, script-switching, diglossia, and identity-related language use. Robert is particularly interested in localized linguistic responses to globalization, especially the emergence of mixed codes in online contexts. He has lived in both East Asia (Japan) and West Asia (Oman, UAE, and Qatar) and has visited many spots in between.


Abdallah, S. (2008). Online Chatting in Beirut: Sites of Occasioned Identity-Construction. Ethnographic Studies, 10, 3-22.

Al-Tamimi, A., & Gorgis, D. T. (2007). Romanised Jordanian Arabic E-messages [Electronic Version]. The International Journal of Language Society and Culture. Retrieved March 25, 2009, from http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/JOURNAL/

Al Share, B. (2005). A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Jordanian Netspeak (JNS). Unpublished Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Jordan University of Science & Technology.

Anis, J. (2007). Neography: Unconventional Spelling in French SMS Text Messages. In B. Danet & S. C. Herring (Eds.), The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Auer, P. (1998). From Code-switching via Language Mixing to Fused Lects: Toward a Dynamic Typology of Bilingual Speech. Interaction and Linguistic Structures, 6.

Auer, P. (2008). The monolingual bias in bilingualism research - or: Why bilingual talk is (still) a challenge for linguistics. Retrieved 17 February, 2008, from www.germanistik.uni-freiburg.de/auer/?download=monolingual_bias_in_bilingualism_research.pdf

Bianchi, R. (2005). Revolution or Fad? Latinized Arabic Vernacular. Paper presented at the 11th TESOL Arabia Conference, Dubai.

Bentahila, A. (1983). Language attitudes among Arabic-French bilinguals in Morocco. Clevedon, Avon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Holes, C. (2004). Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties (Revised ed.). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Palfreyman, D. (2001a). Informal Latinized Orthographies [Electronic Version]. Linguist List, 12. Retrieved November 29, 2004, from http://www.ling.ed.ac.uk/linguist/issues/12/12-2760.html

Palfreyman, D., & Al Khalil, M. (2003). "A Funky Language for Teenzz to Use": Representing Gulf Arabic in Instant Messaging. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 9(1).

Sakarna, A. K. (2006). The Englo-Arabic Language of Young Urban Jordanians: The Influence of the Internet, Mobile Phones, and TV Satellites. Langues et Linguistique(17), 65-80.

Warschauer, M., El Said, G. R., & Zohry, A. (2002). Language choice online: Globalization and identity in Egypt. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 7(4).

Wodak, R., & Wright, S. (2007). The European Union in Cyberspace: Democratic Participation via Online Multilingual Discussion Boards. In B. Danet & S. C. Herring (Eds.), The Multilingual Internet: Language, Culture, and Communication Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.




How to Cite

BIANCHI, R. M. (2012). 3arabizi - When Local Arabic Meets Global English. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 2(1), 89–100. https://doi.org/10.4312/ala.2.1.89-100



Research articles