Research Article

English Transliteration of Arabic Personal Names with the Definite Article {al-} on Facebook



This study aimed to explore how native speakers of Arabic transliterate first and last names containing the definite article {al-} to English on Facebook; what variations exist in transliterating the definite article itself, which is usually attached to the name in Arabic script; how Arabic speakers transliterate {al-} before sun and moon letters in their names; and which strategies they use in transliterating names with a definite article. A sample of 641 unique names with 1207 occurrences (repeats) was collected from the author’s friends’ list on Facebook. Results revealed that {al-} was used in 55% of the names; {el-} was used in 44%; reduced {l-} was used in 1% and {il-} was used in one name only. In 54% of the names, the definite article is attached to the name, with the names spelled in lowercase (الجرف Algarf, Aljarf; الشيخ Alshekh; Alsayd, Elsayed, Alqudah; Alshareef). In 15.5% of the names, the definite article is detached from the name, i.e., spelled as an independent morpheme (الجرف Al Jarf, Al Jorf, Al Jurf; القضاة Al Qudah). In 15.5% the name is spelled with a capital letter although it is attached to the definite article (الجرف AlJurf). In 13.5%, the definite article and the name are hyphenated (الجرف El-Garf, Al-Jurf). In 1%, the definite article is reduced to {l-}, i.e., the vowel in the definite article is deleted (الجرف ljarf, الأسود Lassoued , الغريب Leghrib). In addition, it was found that 40 of the name that follows the definite article begins with a sun (coronal) consonant (Al-Salem; Attaher) as opposed to 60% of the names that begin with a moon letter (Alomari, Aljarf). The study recommends a strategy for transliterating the definite article where the following name begins with a sun (coronal) letter based on the English grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules to enable non-native speakers of Arabic to pronounce the transliterated al+ noun accurately.

Article information


British Journal of Applied Linguistics

Volume (Issue)

2 (2)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). English Transliteration of Arabic Personal Names with the Definite Article {al-} on Facebook. British Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(2), 24–31.



Arabic-English transliteration, Arabic personal names, Facebook spelling, name transliteration, transliteration competence, variant transliterations