Jordanian Arabic is a set of dialects of Levantine Arabic that are originated in the Jordanian Kingdom and are spoken by Jordanians. The western Jordanian dialect of Arabic is similar to that spoken in Syria, West Bank, Israel, Gaza and Lebanon. As with all dialects of Arabic, the variations are in the spoken form of the language only; the written language always conforms to standard (or classical) Arabic.
Aside from the various dialects, one must also deal with the differences in addressing males, females, and groups; plurals and verb conjugations are highly irregular and difficult to determine from their root letters; and there are several letters in the Arab alphabet that are difficult for an English speaker to pronounce.
Although there is a common Jordanian dialect mutually understood by most Jordanians, there are regional distinct variations in various parts of the country with at times unique pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
Is spoken by Jordanian Bedouins mostly in the Badia region east of the Jordanian mountain heights plateau of the Kingdom. This dialect is much truer to the Arabic language and is not widely used in the urban and rural regions and is considered sometimes hard to understand by most residents there.
This variety was born after the designation of Amman as capital of the Jordanian kingdom early in the 20th century. It is the result of the merger of the language of populations who moved from Hauran (northern Jordan), Moab (southern Jordan) and Nablus into the new founded city. For this reason, it mixes features of the Arabic varieties spoken by these populations. The emergence of the language occurred under the strong influence of the Rural Jordanian Hauran Arabic.
There are some letters of the Arabic alphabet that transliterate into English; others are completely foreign to English speakers, making them difficult to pronounce. The pronunciation guide shown below is case- sensitive; for example, 'th' is a different sound from 'Th' and 'TH'.
There are only two glides, or diphthongs, in Arabic. The first glides from 'a' to 'i' and gives an 'ay' sound as in the English word for bait; the second glides from 'a' to 'u' and gives the 'aw' sound as in the Arabic word mawt meaning 'death'.
One syllable of every Arabic word has more stress than the other syllables of that word. Much meaning is communicated in Arabic by the location of the stress. This is much truer than in most Western languages.
Characters marked by an asterisk (*) are ones that may prove more difficult for English speakers than the others.
like 'aa' in "back"
like 'b' in "bed"
like 't' in "top"
like 'th' in "think"
like 'j' in "jump"
H (ح) *
like 'h' in "ahem" (this sound is created by tightly constricting the throat muscles as you force air through; commonly referred to as "heavy h")
like like 'ch' in Scottish "loch" or German "nach" (this sound is similar to a gargled exasperation, as if someone were clearing his throat)
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'th' in "that"
like 'r' in "row", but produced a little further back in the mouth, by flicking the tongue of the roof of the mouth. When doubled, this letter becomes a rolled 'r'.
like 'z' in "haze"
like 's' in "sing"
like 'sh' in "sheep"
S (ص) *
like 's' in "saw" (this sound has more force than an English 's'; commonly referred to as "heavy s")
D (ض) *
like 'd' in "dot" (this sound has more force than an English 'd'; commonly referred to as "heavy d")
T (ط) *
like 't' in "taught" (this sound has more force than an English 't'; commonly referred to as "heavy t")
TH (ظ) *
like 'th' in "other"
3 (ع) *
a guttural sound produced in the throat, perhaps slightly resembling 'ei' in German "nein", or like the 'aa' in "aargh" (as an expression of frustration). Many foreigners have trouble with this letter, and you will generally be understood even if you don't manage to master it! (While there are different methods of transliterating this difficult character, most Arabs (and this phrasebook!) use the number 3 in informal transliteration because of its resemblance to the orginal Arabic letter)
gh (غ) *
like French 'r' (this sound is a more guttural—or gargled—version of the English 'g')
like 'f' in "fox"
like 'g' in "got" or as a glottal stop (Jordanian Arabic only occasionally retains the standard Arabic pronunciation of this letter as similar to 'c' in "cat" but produced at the very back of the mouth.)
like 'k' in "kitten"
like 'l' in "lamb"
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "noon"
like 'h' in "help"
like 'w' in "wow"
like 'y' in "yes"
a glottal stop (like the 't' in "better" if said with a cockney accent!)
Alternate versions of each word—used when addressing men, women, or groups—have been listed where applicable. Other variations include word differences if spoken by a male or a female. The Arabic words have been included although the spoken pronunciation may differ from the written script.
The Arabic numeric characters are provided in place of the words due to their more common usage. Unlike Arabic script, Arabic numerals are printed from left to right. In the case where two pronunciations are provided, either can be used interchangably.
٢ (tinain or ithnain)
٣ (talaata or thalaatha)
٨ (thamaaniyeh or tamaaniyeh)
١١ (iH'dash or H'dash)
١٢ (it'nash or t'nash)
٢١ (waHid u' ashriin) - Literally "one and twenty"
٢٢ (tinain u' ashriin) - Literally "two and twenty"
٢٣ (talaata u' ashriin) - Literally "three and twenty"
The following months coordinate with the Islamic calendar and is used only for Muslim holidays. Generally, the Gregorian calendar is used. When defining a month, however, most people use the month numbers (like shahir waaHid, which means "month one" or January).