Research Article

Variant Transliterations of the Same Arabic Personal Names on Facebook



This study aimed to explore variant transliterations of the same Arabic names in English by Arabic native speakers on Facebook; to find the distribution of English variant transliteration of Arabic names; the types of variant transliterations produced by Arabic speakers; the strategies they utilize in transliterating their names to English; and the sources of the variations in the English transliteration of the same Arabic name. A sample of 112 names with a total of 332 variant transliterations and 1139 occurrences (repeats) was collected from the author’s friends on Facebook. It was found that 59% of the Arabic names have 2 variant transliterations in English and 26% have 3 variants transliterations. Names with the highest number of variant transliterations are الجرف (35), محمد (7); محمود, يوسف, شريف, (6); نور نورة شيماء (5).  Variants with the highest occurrences are الجرف (154), محمد (153); احمد (90); Ali (67); محمود  (53); هناء &  السيد(19).  In 97% of the names in the sample, the variants differ in how the vowels/diphthong are represented in the English transliteration because Arabic and English differ in the number of vowels, vowel quality and vowel articulation. Arabic has 3 long vowels, 3 short vowels and 2 diphthongs, whereas English has 12 vowels and 8 diphthongs. In transliterating their names, Arabic consonant sounds for which two English graphemes exist were spelled differently. There are variations in transliterating Arabic surnames with the Arabic definite article /al/. In 18% of the names in the sample, the subjects transferred the Arabic spelling to the English transliteration of their names. The short vowel was not represented in the English transliteration. In 15%, the subjects transliterated their names the way they pronounce them in their local dialect (El-Garf in Egypt; Aljerf in Syria and Aljuruf in Palestine), not as the name is pronounced in Standard Arabic. In 17%, the subjects with a background in French transferred the French phoneme-grapheme representations of vowels and consonants to the English transliteration (Hicham, Aouatef). The study gives some recommendations for the correct transliteration of Arabic names to English.

Article information


International Journal of English Language Studies

Volume (Issue)

4 (4)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). Variant Transliterations of the Same Arabic Personal Names on Facebook. International Journal of English Language Studies, 4(4), 79–90.



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