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Iraqi Arabic
Spoken in Iraq, Iran, Syria
Total speakers 15,100,000
Language family Afro-Asiatic
Writing system Arabic alphabet
Official status
Official language in none
Regulated by none
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 acm

Iraqi Arabic (عراقي ʕiraqi; formally: اللغة العربية العراقية al-luɣa al-ʕarabiyya al-ʕiraqiyya in Arabic, also known as Mesopotamian Arabic [ISO 639-3] ) is a variety of Arabic spoken in the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq, from Baghdad south, as well as in Khuzestan Province of Iran and eastern Syria. A distinction is recognised between Mesopotamian Qeltu Arabic and Mesopotamian Gelet Arabic, the appellations deriving from the form of the word for "I said".

The Qeltu group includes the Anatolian dialect cluster, also known as North Mesopotamian Arabic or Maslawi (Mosul Arabic), and Jewish and Christian sectarian dialects (such as Baghdad Jewish Arabic). The speakers of Baghdadi Arabic find both North Mesopotamian Arabic and Jewish Arabic reminiscent of Syrian Arabic because of the shared qeltu features, though there is little real affinity.

The Gelet group includes a Tigris dialect cluster, of which the best-known form is Baghdadi Arabic, and a Euphrates dialect cluster, known as Furati, i.e. Euphrates Arabic. The group has some affinities to Gulf Arabic.

In addition, some Bedouin dialects are spoken in Iraq.

Both the Gelet and the Qeltu varieties of Iraqi Arabic have some speakers in the extreme eastern parts of Syria. Some features of rural Palestinian Arabic, such as the pronunciation of kaf as [tʃ], are also shared with Iraqi Arabic.

Medieval Iraqi Arabic, so far as recorded, appears to have been of the Qeltu type. It is thought by some scholars, e.g. Joshua Blau, that the gelet features in mainstream Iraqi Arabic today are the result of a process of "re-Bedouinization". The affinity to Gulf Arabic, and the persistence of qeltu features in the Jewish and Christian dialects, offer some support to this view.


  • H. Blanc. 1964. Communal Dialects in Baghdad. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Raymond G. Gordon, Jr, ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics (see also Ethnologue entry for Mesopotamian Arabic)

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