Which Languages Are Spoken In Egypt?
By: Hassan Ahmed
What are the spoken dialects in Egypt or what are the variations vis-a-vis speaking the Egyptian language? A question that has gained quite some attention over the past couple of decades.
In order to answer this question, you need to conceptualize the geography of Egypt. Let’s take a look at the map of Egypt.
The map shows a lot of variations as well. You can see that we have the mediterranean sea in the north and the red sea in the south. Along with the sea coasts, there is river Nile in between and a massive area is occupied by the deserts.
Now, due to this geography, you will find that people are concentrated in the valley of the Nile in the middle and also on the sea coasts. Meanwhile, very few people reside in the deserts. Hence, there is a difference in dialects.
So let’s look at some of the different languages or dialects are spoken in Egypt;
This is the most important dialect or spoken variation in Egypt, in the sense that it’s understood by many Arabs. All the media and the movies, and popular series of songs and tv shows are in this language. Hence, learning this language is imperative if you want to be understood not only in Egypt but outside of Egypt too.
Another very important dialect in Eqypt, especially in Upper Egypt is Saeidi. So if you go South from Cairo in the Nile Valley to different towns up to Luxor, you will find the dialect of Upper Egypt. This dialect is quite significant because many people speak this dialect considering the fact that it is not a specific dialect. It is a dialect based on different variations of the town or the city. But all of these dialects can be categorized into one segment called the upper dialect of Egypt.
Hence, this dialect presents a lot of challenges and difficulties if compared with the Ameyyah dialect. Because the citizens of Cairo also cannot understand the conversations between people from Upper Egypt, let alone another person who is from a completely different state.
Then we have another dialect, called Bedawi. This dialect is mainly found in Sinai, which constitutes Eastern Egypt, which is located in the West of the Red Sea. So in Sinai, for example, you will find the Bedawi dialect a lot. And this is totally different from the dialects spoken in Upper Egypt or the one spoken in Cairo. Even Egyptians from Cairo face a lot of difficulty in understanding them. Secondly, we have the Beja dialect which is mainly spoken in the parts of the Western Red sea.
Berber or Amazigh is another dialect or as claimed by many linguists, a separate language in Egypt. It was originally a language of the inhabitants that lived in the North of Africa. The people started to scatter into various groups and societies, and many of them started their own communities. One of those communities settled in Egypt. The language of Berber has been replenished in a written form called Tamazight or Amazigh. This word actually depicts the name of one of the Moroccan Berber dialects.
Another famous language spoken in certain parts of Egypt is the mild version of Sudanese Arabic. If you want to know how many people speak this dialect, you would be surprised to know that only around 1.7% of the population in Egypt speaks this particular dialect. So the question is who are those people who speak it. Well, the credit goes to the Sudanese immigrants living in Egypt. These immigrants are actually refugees who have fled their home country to avoid civil war. Hence, solely are the reasons that actually led to the spread of this particular dialect.
Other than the major languages spoken in Egypt, there are also some minority languages spoken throughout Egypt. So the word minority language depicts the notion that only the minorities living in Egypt speak them.
One of the minority languages is Nubian, which significantly differs from the principal Arabic language, i.e. spoken in Cairo. Moreover, there is a small community living in Egypt called the Siwa Oasis. These people also have their own language that they speak, called “Siwi Berber’. However, this minority language has not been able to expand to other parts of Egypt.
Another famous minority language spoken in Egypt is called the ‘Domari’. This dialect belongs to the Indo-Aryan group. The Indo-Aryan group is actually related to the people of Rome. Hence, there are many Roman words incorporated into Domari’s lexicon.
There are many foreign languages spoken in Egypt as well. The reason behind this fact is that Egypt was colonized by the British. Hence, the English language has become part of the official administration of the Egyptian government. Moreover, Egypt is one of the busiest tourist spots in the world, majorly due to its rich history. A lot of people around the world come to visit Cairo on a yearly basis. That is why English has become part of the daily lifestyle of the citizens.
Moreover, another widely popular language in Egypt is the French language. The reason behind this is that the French also had an influence in Egypt during the colonization period. And French was once the language of education as well. Now due to this impact, a lot of other foreign languages such as Russian, German and Italian are also spoken in some parts of Egypt.
So by reviewing this article you will be able to understand that Egypt is a place of cultural diversity.
History has a lot to do with what sort of languages and various dialects are spoken there. Many people assume that Arabic is the only language. On the contrary, there is a variety of Arabic dialects that have enveloped the fragment of the Arabian world. Hence, Egypt is no exception as well. Different communities have settled with time, and have brought their own lexicon and vocabulary with them. This has made Arabic a combination of different dialects and languages. Thereby, this article will give you a list of some major languages that are spoken in Egypt, while also mentioning some of the minority and foreign languages spoken as well.