Mesopotamian Arabic

Mesopotamian Arabic, also known as Iraqi Arabic, (Arabic: عراقية‎) is a continuum of mutually intelligible varieties of Arabic native to the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq as well as spanning into Kuwait,[2] Syria,[3] Iran,[3] southeastern Turkey,[4] and spoken in Iraqi diaspora communities.

Mesopotamian Arabic has an Aramaic Syriac substrate, and also shares significant influences from ancient Mesopotamian languages of Sumerian and Akkadian, as well as Persian, Turkish, Kurdish and Greek. Mesopotamian Arabic is said to be the most Aramaic-Syriac influenced dialect of Arabic, due to Aramaic-Syriac having originated in Mesopotamia, and spread throughout the Middle East (Fertile Crescent) during the Neo-Assyrian period, eventually becoming the lingua franca of the entire region before Islam.[5][6][7] Iraqi Arabs and Assyrians are the largest Semitic peoples in Iraq, sharing significant similarities in language between Mesopotamian Arabic and Syriac.

Aramaic was the lingua franca in Mesopotamia from the early 1st millennium BCE until the late 1st millennium CE, and as may be expected, Iraqi Arabic shows signs of an Aramaic substrate.[8] The Gelet and the Judeo-Iraqi varieties have retained features of Babylonian Aramaic.[8]

Due to Iraq's inherent multiculturalism as well as history, Iraqi Arabic in turn bears extensive borrowings in its lexicon from Aramaic, Akkadian, Persian, Turkish, the Kurdish languages and Hindustani[citation needed]. The inclusion of Mongolian and Turkic terms in the Iraqi Arabic dialect should also be mentioned, because of the political role a succession of Turco-Mongol dynasties played after Mesopotamia was invaded by Mongol-Turkic colonizers in 1258 that made Iraq became part of Ilkhanate[citation needed] (Iraq is the only Arab country that was invaded and influenced by Mongols), and also because of the prestige Iraqi Arabic dialect and literature enjoyed in the part of Arab world, which was often ruled by sultans and emirs with a Turkic background.

Mesopotamian Arabic has two major varieties. A distinction is recognised between Gelet Mesopotamian Arabic and Qeltu Mesopotamian Arabic, the names deriving from the form of the word for "I said".[9]

The southern (Gelet) group includes a Tigris dialect cluster, of which the best-known form is Baghdadi Arabic, and a Euphrates dialect cluster, known as Furati (Euphrates Arabic). The Gelet variety is also spoken in the Khuzestan Province of Iran.[3]

The northern (Qeltu) group includes the north Tigris dialect cluster, also known as North Mesopotamian Arabic or Maslawi (Mosul Arabic).

Both the Gelet and the Qeltu varieties of Iraqi Arabic are spoken in Syria,[3][4] the former is spoken on the Euphrates east of Aleppo and in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, Khuzestan Province, Iran and across the border in Turkey.[4]

Cypriot Arabic shares a large number of common features with Mesopotamian Arabic;[10] particularly the northern variety, and has been reckoned as belonging to this dialect area.[11]