Le nouveau média digital et social pour découvrir l’Arabie et le Moyen-Orient. Décalé. Innovant.

Light on: arabizi

It is a practical invention, which is becoming a real trend as it develops. You've probably heard that word before, but you don't really know what it was referring to? As World Arabic Day approaches, it may be time to learn!

You may have (probably) already heard of it. Arabizi, also called Arabish (Arabic + English), is this special form of virtual writing that could be summarily called the alphabet for chatting in Arabic. It is used by young people throughout the Arab world, as an alternative to written Arabic, to communicate on computer systems, which use the Latin alphabet.

At the beginning

During the last decades of the 20th century, and especially since the late 1990s, text-based technological communication methods (email, SMS, messenger, IRC, etc.) have gained in importance in the Arab world. As most of these systems used the Latin alphabet as their linguistic reference and did not offer the Arabic alphabet as an option, users have had to be more inventive.

That’s how Arabizi was born. It is, therefore, an Arabic text using Latin characters and numbers, which represent certain Arabic characters that have no phonetic equivalent in English. Basically, it’s “writing Arabic in English”. For example, the Arabic letter “ح” (Haa) cannot be accurately represented in Latin characters and is therefore represented by the number “7”. We can also see the similarity between the form of the letter ح and the number 7… It should be noted that Arabizi can evolve according to the dialects spoken by users.