Reddit Hosting Linguistics Projects

The recently launched r/Arabs Dialect Project uses popular social network Reddit to map different Arabic dialects in the Middle East and Africa.

Reddit has been used for many things, from crowd-sourcing the Boston Marathon bombings, to raising money for the down and out. Its latest use? Linguistics research.

The recently launched r/Arabs Dialect Project uses Reddit to map Arabic dialects from the Middle East and North Africa. Many dialects are mutually unintelligible and have as much in common as Portuguese and French. Participants in the project retell a story from the folk tales of Nasreddin Juha in their native accent.

According to The Economist, the project intentionally stresses the differences in each accent, almost as if "an old uncle" were telling it. More than 25 samples from two continents have been uploaded so far. Since launching as a Digg-style link-sharing site, Reddit has grown into a massive community.

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  • ahascha

    'Unintelligible' mostly for foreigners whose mother tongue is not Arabic. I have a levantine dialect but it's easy for me to adapt to any of the other dialects. All dialects use Arabic words but you'd have to get used to pronunciation, speed, and the use of different words to describe the same thing as meanings emerge from local interactions.  For example, Kerakis sometimes use (demes) for rock while Ammanis use (hajar).

    It's always fun speaking to other Arabs! However, I must say I don't always understand what Algerian Rai singer Cheb Khalid is saying when he's singing in Arabic!

  • Isabel Herron

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  • Ryan Portsmouth

    "have as much in common as Portuguese and French", this is no surprise to me, I live in Brazil where they speak Brazilian Portuguese and I have met a few people who have commented on similarities between Arabic and Portuguese, just like I have also met people who have commented on similarities between English and Portuguese. But my Portuguese isn't that good and I don't speak Arabic so I'm not the best person to comment on such linguistic matters.