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Yemeni Arabic 101
Yemeni Arabic is broadly part of the family Gulf Arabic languages, but it is more closely related to the Southern Peninsular Arabic spoken in parts of Saudi Arabia and Oman. As with any language, even in countries as small as Yemen, one may also find more sub-dialects spoken throughout its 21 governorates.
These dialects are classified according to the major cities, regions, or culture in which they are spoken. The most popular and widely spoken is the Sanaani dialect, which is centered in the northern/central region around the capital city of Sana’a. The next is Ta’azi/Adeni found more around the southwestern coast cities of Taiz and Aden. After these, the next most popular are Azbidi (western coastal city of Zabid), Yafti (Yafa region northeast of Aden), and Hadhrami (eastern Governorate of Hadhramaut).
There is also a form of Judeo-Yemeni Arabic used by the sizable Jewish population traditionally inhabiting the area, and which is still spoken by the Yemeni community today in Israel. In addition to Arabic, other Semitic languages, such as Mehri and Hobyot, are also spoken among the people living on the border of Yemen and Oman, as well as Soqotri on the Yemeni island of Socotra.
Yemeni Arabic-English Translation Services
We offer a full-line of Yemeni Arabic translation services and support in a variety of formats and media:
- Certified Yemeni legal/human rights document translations
- Yemeni medical translation
- Yemeni Arabic interpretation services (consecutive and simultaneous)
- Yemeni video subtitling
- Proper Arabic formatting for graphics and images within a document
- Translation document types supported: Microsoft Office Suite, PDF, Adobe, InDesign, and more.
Yemeni Translation/Interpretation Case Studies
We have a wide range of experience and proficiency in handling Yemeni Arabic material and content:
- Film script: Our translator handled the translation of an English script for an upcoming film about the experiences of Yemeni refugees, with the stage notes written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and the dialogue in Yemeni Arabic.
- Humanitarian surveys: Our translator localized a series of English survey translations into Adeni Yemeni Arabic for Aden residents on behalf of a global NGO.
- Political papers: We managed large academic translations dealing with the ongoing conflict and crisis in Yemen. While translated into MSA, the file contained many Yemeni regionalisms, which our translator adapted for a Yemeni Arabic-speaking audience. (NDA)
Traveling to Yemen? Master these 30 Essential Yemeni Arabic Words/Phrases:
For your convenience, we’ve assembled the most common and useful words and phrases for getting around in Yemen or among your local Yemeni community. Think of it as your own personal, pocket-sized dictionary! Before chatting it up with native speakers, however, please take into consideration all the following pronunciation tips to improve your speech and language:
- In Sanaani Arabic, the q-sound qaaf (ق) becomes a g-sound, which reflects the sounds of early or classical Arabic language. However, in Ta’azi Arabic, the Q (ق) sound remains the same, but the j-sound jeem (ج) becomes a g-sound.
- The possessive pronoun indicating something that is yours (i.e., your name) is typically rendered with the k-sound kaaf (ك) attached to the end of nouns and prepositional words in most Arabic dialects. This is the case in Yemeni Arabic, though you will hear this letter replaced with an sh-sound sheen (ش) in the northern Sanaani dialect.
1. How are you? = كيف الحال؟ or كيف حالش (kaif al-Hal – kaif Halash [m] / Halesh [f])
2. Good = بخير (bakhair)
3. Ok (affirmative to a command) = تمام (Tamam)
4. What’s up? = ايش عامل(ة)؟ (ayish 3amil [m] / 3amilah [f])
5. Who are you? = من أنت (ي)؟ (min anta – anti)
6. What’s your name? = ايش اسمك ؟ or ايش اسمش؟ (ayish esmak [m] / esmik [f] or ayish esmash [m] / esmish [f])
7. My name is… = اسمي (esmi)
8. Where are you from? = من اين أنت(ي)؟ (min ayin anta [m] / anti [f])
9. Where are you going? = فين بتروح (ي) – اين عتسير(ي)؟ (fiin batroH [m] / batroHi [f] – ayin 3atseer [m] / 3atseeri [f])
10. Straight = طوالي – ساني (Tawali – saani)
11. To the right = لليمين (lil-yameen)
12. To the left = لليسار (lil-yasar)
13. Quickly! Hurry! = بسرعة بسرعة – سريع سريع (busora3ah – saree3)
14. What time is it? = كم الوقت – كم الساعة؟ (kam al-wagt/waqt – kam al-sa3ah)
15. It is nine. = الساعة تسع (al-sa3ah tisa3)
16. (At) what time? = متى؟ (mata)
17. Now. = الان – ذلحين (al-aan – thalheen)
18. Later. = بعدا – بعدين (ba3da – ba3dain)
19. How much is this? = بكم هذا؟ (bikam hatha)
20. What do you want? = ايش تشتي – ما تشتي؟ (ayish tishti – ma tishti)
21. I want… = اشتي (ashti)
22. Please, or Excuse me. = (law samaHt) لو سمحت
23. Do you like…? = يعجبك….؟ (y3ajabak [m] / y3ajabek [f])
24. I like = عجبني (3ajabni)
25. How’s the Saltah (Yemeni meat stew)? = كيف السلتة ؟ (kaif al-saltah)
26. Delicious. = طٌعيمه – حاليه (Tu’imah – Haliyah)
27. Very/a lot = قوي – كثير (gawi/qawi – katheer )
28. No more, I’m full! = الحمدلله، شبعت (al-Hamdullah – shaba3at)
29. Thanks! = شكراً (shukran)
30. Not a problem! = ما فيش مشكلة (maa feesh mushkilah)
Interested in More?
Looking to dive deeper into the intricacies of Yemeni Arabic and its culture? Want more language support, information, or dictionaries? Check out some of these helpful resources:
- Yemeni Arabic-English Dictionary
- Dictionary of Post Classical Yemeni Arabic
- Conversational Arabic: Yemeni Dialect
- Yemeni Arabic Resource Guide
Looking for a great, qualified English, Arabic, or Yemeni translator? Need more information on our services and experience? Message us here for a free quote and begin your Yemeni translation/interpretation project today!