Transcription Conventions used



The following general principles apply to the transcription conventions used in this project:


a- JI being a Semitic language, there are a lot of affixes. Very frequently, these will alter the sound of the word by assimilation or elision. In this case, the root and the affixes have been retained, separated by a dash (-). You have to listen to the recording in order to find out how the transcription sounds. However you can easily carry out a search on the proper root of the word using ELAN’s internal search engine.


b- Common with Baghdad Christian Arabic, the JI pronunciation of the letter ‘r’ is not a trill but a sound similar to the Parisian French ‘r’. For clarity and to distinguish it from the letter ‘gh’ which is pronounced the same way, it is transcribed as ‘R’ i.e. in CAPTAL. This will facilitate better searching for the speaker community as well as Arab academics. Note that it is not always the case with JI that ‘r’ is pronounced as the soft ‘R’; examples are Hebrew imports and modern Arabic words. In this case the trill is transcribed as ‘r’.


c- If the word originates from another language, or there is a code switching by the speaker, the following convention applies in a “Note” tier:

(EN) = English

(CA) = Classical Arabic

(H)    = Hebrew

(P)    = Persian

(T)    = Turkish


d- Where a square bracket [..] appears in a translation line, it indicates an addition by the translator for clarification.


Table of Phonemics used

The table below shows the roman characters used on a QWERTY keyboard with the equivalent Arabic script.


Consonants (For the IPA equivalent, ctrl + click)

‘ =   ع  voiced pharyngeal fricative

b = ب  voiced bilabial stop, similar to English “b”  in bake

B =     emphatic (velarized) “b”

ch =  چ  alveolar affricate, similar to English “ch” in chime. Used mostly for imported Persian or Turkish words or Muslim Iraqi   pronunciation of the “k”.

d = د  voiced dental stop, similar to English “d” in dad.

dh = ذ  voiced interdental fricative similar to the English “th” in than.

DH =  ظ velarized “dh”, voiced inter-dental fricative , no equivalent in English.

f  = ف  unvoiced labio-dental similar to English “f” as in fan.

g = گ  voiced velar stop similar to English “g” in get. Used for imported words from Persian, Hebrew or Muslim Iraqi where the “q” is pronounced as “g”.

gh = غ voiced velar fricative, no English equivalent.

h  =  ه  voiceless glottal fricative similar to English “h” in home. 

H = ح  voiceless pharyngeal fricative; no English equivalent.

j =  ج  voiced alveolar affricate similar to English “j” in jail

k = ك  voiceless velar stop, similar to English “k” in kit

kh =  خ voiceless velar fricative similar to Scottish “ch” in Loch

l = ل  voiced alveo-dental lateral similar to English “l” in lame.

L =    velarized “l”  similar to English “l” in full.

m = م  voiced bilabial nasal similar to English “m” in man.

M =    emphatic “m” .

n = ن  voiced dental nasal similar to the English “n” in neat.

N =    emphatic “n” .

p = پ voiceless bilabial stop similar to English “p” in patrician

P =    emphatic “p” similar to English “p” in Path

q = ق  voiceless uvular stop; no equivalent  in English

r  = ر  alveolar trill similar to Spanish “rr” in burro. Note that where the JI pronunciation             of the trill “r” has been rendered as “gh”, it is transcribed as Capital “R”

R =     the JI pronunciation of “r” .It sounds like “gh” almost like the Parisian French “r”             in ratter

s = س   voiceless alveolar fricative, similar to English “s” in sad.

S =  ص emphatic or velarized “s”.

sh = ش  voiceless post-alveolar fricative, similar to English “sh” in sheep.

t =  ت voiceless alveolar stop, similar to English “t” in take.

T  = ط  emphatic or velarized “t”, no equivalent in English.

th = ث voiceless interdental fricative similar to English “th” in thank.

v =     voiced labio-dental fricative, similar to English “v” in volition. It is used for            import words from French and English.

z = ز voiced alveolar fricative similar to English “z” in zebra.

zh = voiced alveolar fricative similar to French “j” in Je. Rare; used for imported            French names such as Giselle or French sentences. It occurs in JI where the        affricate j is followed by a consonant, e.g. Jdidi > zhdidi.


w = و  voiced labial-velar approximate, similar to English “w”  in way. Note this is          equivalent to the Arabic consonant “و” and not the long vowel “و” transcribed         as “u”; see below.

y= ي  voiced palatal approximate, similar to English “y” in Yes


The Vowels

Short vowels:

a  low front/back unrounded, similar to English “a” in snap.

o mid back rounded, similar to English “o” in tomato.

i  high front unrounded similar English “i” in tip.

e  the central vowel, similar to French ‘e’ in je. Also used for anaptyctics

u  high back rounded, similar to English “u” in bull.

Long Vowels: The vowels are capitalized to render them long.

A  similar to English “a” in father.

I   similar to English “ee” in cheese.

O  similar to English “o” in  horn.

U   similar to English “oo” in choose.


ai   mid front, unrounded, similar to English “a” in late.


Note on the Arabic Hamza (the glottal stop):

Spoken JI has no glottal stops except at the start of a word . In this case the short vowels will be used. For example, ana (I am), enta (you, masculine, sing.), u (and). Where code switching to standard Arabic is found with a glottal stop in the middle of the word, the symbol /~/ is used.

Epenthetic (helping) vowel

Generally no epenthetic vowels have been used for transcription. This is in order to keep to the phonemic integrity of the word. Some exceptions occur, for example the Arabic prefix “b” (meaning “in” ) when followed by a consonant, would require an epenthetic vowel to sound “eb” . This will be transcribed as either “eb-“ or  more frequently as “b“ followed by the noun.


For a table of consonants used laid out in IPA form see Consonants table.