For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Gulf Pidgin Arabic.

Gulf Pidgin Arabic

Gulf Pidgin Arabic is an Arabic-based pidgin which is primarily used by migrant workers in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. The variety was first published on in 1990, with the author reporting that the variety existed as early as the 1960s.[1] As with other pidgins, Gulf Pidgin Arabic does not have a standard form and will vary in features and vocabulary between communities.[2]


GPA is thought to have first arisen in the 1950s, when the development of the oil industry in the area resulted in the arrival of migrant workers.[3] Other researchers place the emergence of GPA later, in the 1970s or 1980s.[4][5]

Social context

A number of migrant workers hailing from central and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand) work in the Persian Gulf region. These workers speak a variety of languages, but are unlikely to speak Arabic.[3] However, because these workers are never naturalized, nor do they marry and start families, there are no native speakers of the language, thereby preventing it from developing into a creole.[3] In the infrequent cases of intermarriage between migrant workers and Arabic speakers, the migrant worker tends to favor Arabic rather than PGA when interacting with their spouse.[3] For workers who do permanently settle in the region, the social stigma attached to GPA incentivizes them to learn Gulf Arabic in order to gain social prestige.[3]


Gulf Pidgin Arabic (GPA) is primarily used between south Asian migrant workers, who are non-native speakers of Arabic, and their Arabic-speaking employers. It is also used between migrant workers if they lack another common language.[3] Other languages, such as English, Arabic dialects from outside of the Persian Gulf region, Gulf Arabic, and Persian might be used alongside it.[1] Speakers of PGA may also borrow words or simple phrases or sentences from these other languages to better facilitate communication.[1]

Social stigma is attached to speaking GPA, and the pidgin is used to invoke humor.[3]


Generally speaking, GPA does not have a vowel length distinction, which is present in Gulf Arabic.[2] GPA also does not geminate consonants.[2][6]

Phonetic shifts

Phonetic shifts are dependent on the speaker's native language.[5] The amount of time workers spend in the region also tends to correspond to pronunciations that more closely resemble Gulf Arabic.[5]

Phoneme[2] Gulf Arabic Gulf Pidgin Arabic
(gh) غ /gh/ /g/
(kh) خ /kh/ /k/ or /h/


GPA borrows from English as well as Arabic in its lexicon, although these loanwords do usually have already-existing equivalents in Arabic.[2] Personal pronouns are underdeveloped, with the singular first person and singular second-person being most commonly used.[2]


Verbs in GPA do not conjugate for person; rather, the third person singular masculine imperfect form is used in all cases.[2][3] Aspect and tense markers are missing, so speakers must glean that information from context.[2][3] GPA does not utilize the Arabic dual noun form. Instead, speakers preface nouns with the cardinal number two.[2] Reduplication with both Arabic and English words is used to emphasize or intensify that word's meaning.[2]

Another innovation in GPA is the use of "fi" as a copula, which Gulf Arabic lacks in the present tense.[7]

Further reading

  • Alqahtani, Mufleh; Almoaily, Mohammad (28 October 2022). "Debuccalization in Gulf Pidgin Arabic: OT Parallelism or Harmonic Serialism". Journal of Semitic Studies. 68 (1): 139–164. doi:10.1093/jss/fgac022.
  • Alshammari, Wafi Fhaid (24 August 2022). "Numeral form selection and accommodation in Gulf Pidgin Arabic". Language, Interaction and Acquisition. 13 (1): 29–62. doi:10.1075/lia.21010.als. S2CID 251823493.


  1. ^ a b c Smart, J. R. (1990). "Pidginization in Gulf Arabic: A First Report". Anthropological Linguistics. 32 (1/2): 83–119. ISSN 0003-5483. JSTOR 30028141.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Atta M. S. Salem, Ashraf (2013-04-11). "Linguistic Features of Pidgin Arabic in Kuwait". English Language Teaching. 6 (5). doi:10.5539/elt.v6n5p105. ISSN 1916-4750.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bakir, Murtadha J. (2010-08-16). "Notes on the verbal system of Gulf Pidgin Arabic". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. 25 (2): 201–228. doi:10.1075/jpcl.25.2.01bak. ISSN 0920-9034.
  4. ^ Almoaily, Mohammad (2014), "Language variation in Gulf Pidgin Arabic", Pidgins and Creoles beyond Africa-Europe Encounters, Creole Language Library, vol. 47, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 57–84, doi:10.1075/cll.47.04alm, ISBN 978-90-272-5270-8, retrieved 2023-06-03
  5. ^ a b c Aljutaily, Mohammad Fahad (2018). "The influence of linguistic and non-linguistic factors on the variation of Arabic marked consonants in the speech of Gulf Pidgin Arabic: acoustic analysis". Retrieved 2023-06-03.
  6. ^ Altakhaineh, Abdel Rahman Mitib; Al-Namer, Abdul-Salam; Alnamer, Sulafah (March 2022). "Degemination in Emirati Pidgin Arabic: A Sociolinguistic Perspective". Languages. 7 (1): 8. doi:10.3390/languages7010008. ISSN 2226-471X.
  7. ^ Potsdam, Eric; Alanazi, Mohammad (2014). "Fi in Gulf Pidgin Arabic". Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics. 35: 9–29. doi:10.17161/KWPL.1808.15946. hdl:1808/15946. ISSN 2378-7600.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Gulf Pidgin Arabic
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 ๐ŸŽ‰! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?