Intonational Variation in Arabic

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


Twenty five countries have Arabic as an official language, but the dialects spoken vary greatly, and even within one country different accents are heard.

Many features create the impression of 'a different accent', including how particular sounds (consonants and vowels) are pronounced, where stress falls in a word, and what intonation pattern is used. There is extensive prior research on the first two of these for Arabic, but few descriptions of the intonation of individual dialects, and what is known is based on different data types so direct comparisons cannot be made.

The Intonational Variation in Arabic project is hosted by the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York, a leading centre for sociophonetic research.

Adapting methodology from earlier ESRC funded work on English ( the project will generate a public-access corpus of Arabic speech, using a parallel set of sentences, stories and conversations, recorded with 18-24 year olds in five regions of the Arab world. Additional data from older speakers (50+) and in nearby cities will reveal changes in progress and local variation.

Detailed prosodic transcription will yield intonational descriptions of individual dialects and cross-dialectal comparisons, for use by linguists, learners and teachers of Arabic and other users.
Effective start/end date1/04/1130/06/17




  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • PJ Semitic