Research Article

Pluralization of Social Media Loan Terminology in Colloquial Arabic


  • Reima Al-Jarf Full Professor of English and Translation Studies, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Arabic has ancient as well as contemporary loanwords from numerous languages such as English, French, and Turkish that are used as loan words or in code-switches. With the advent of social media, the number of foreign words used in the spoken language is on the rise. This study aimed to find out how social media loan terminology is pluralized in Spoken Arabic and whether there are any pluralization peculiarities that were not detected by prior studies. To identify the plural formation processes followed in each loan term, a sample of 20 students and 5 instructors at the College of Language Sciences, King Saud University participated in the study. The participants verified a 146 social media loan terms to verify the plural form of each. Results showed that 54% of the loan terms in the sample take a Feminine Sound Plural (account اكاونتات /akaynt-a:t/, which is the most productive plural form. In 16% of the loan terms in this category, the final consonants in the stem are geminated before the suffix -a:t when the penultimate vowel in the stem is short as in blogs بلوجات /blogga:t/; clicks كليكات /klikka:t/; stories ستوريات /sto:riyya:t/. In other terms, an /h/is added to the plural suffix -a:t in stems ending in the long vowel و /u;/as in studios استديوهات /studio-ha:t/. About 22% of the loan terms take a zero plural (voice call; timeline; status; 17.6% have the English plural form ending (followers; threads); only 3% take a Masculine Sound Plural فيسبوكييون /feysbukkiyyu:n/ (*Facebookers) and 3% have a Broken plural (codes أكواد /?kwa:d/); 3% have two plurals (code كودات /ko”da:t/, أكواد /?akwa:d/; Youtubers اليوتيوبرية /yu:tu:bariyya/ & يوتيوبرز /yu:tyu:barz/; and in one loan term, the Feminine Sound Plural is added to the plural form (fans+ -a:t). As in prior studies, the most productive is the Feminine Sound plural as it is the default plural form in most loanwords. Unlike prior studies, this study found two new pluralization processes, adopting the English plural and adding the plural suffix -a:t to the English plural of the loan term. Recommendations for further studies that investigate other types of morphological borrowing in Arabic are given.

Article information


British Journal of Applied Linguistics

Volume (Issue)

3 (2)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Pluralization of Social Media Loan Terminology in Colloquial Arabic. British Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(2), 60–68.



Loan words, borrowings, pluralizing loan words, morphological borrowing, social media terminology, pluralizing social media terms, borrowings in Arabic; Feminine Sound Plural in loanwords; borrowed plural forms