The Linguistic and Social Aspects of the Bedouin Dialect

Mahmoud El Salman


This is a sociolinguistic study that tries to investigate the peculiarity of the Bedouin dialect regardless of the place where it is used. Some variants that are used in their dialect are used wherever they are from. Two sounds in particular were chosen to carry out this study. These are the /ʤ/ variant of the (Q) variable, and the /ts/ variant of the (K) variable. The study shows that some sounds that are known to be exclusively used by Bedouins, are still used by the old Bedouins wherever they live. For example, Old informants from Jordan used the /ts/ variant within the tribe domains, and the old informants from other tribes living in Saudi Arabia used it as well. This is also seen with regard to the /ʤ/ sound.  The /ʤ/ is used also in relatively high percentage in the speech of the old in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This shows that belonging to the Bedouin group per se, is what matters in determining the sound used regardless of the region to which one belongs. Unlike the rural people who might use the different alternates of the (Q) variable depending on the region to which they belong, for example, [k] is used in some parts of Palestine while [q] is used in other parts like Tirat Haifa village in the northern part of Palestine. Bedouins are consistent in using the [g] variant or the /ʤ/ of the (Q) variable regardless of the area where they live. In other words, the two sounds appear in the dialects of the Bedouins whether they live in Jordan or Saudi Arabia.  This raises the possibility that their sharing the same culture (being Bedouins) leads to their sharing these linguistic features. Part of their culture is belonging to their tribes as they are traditionally divided into tribes. The dialect of the tribe remains important where ever they are.

Keywords. Linguistic variation, variant 

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