Research Article

Absence of Vowels in the English Spelling of Arabic Personal Names on Social Media


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


Many users of social media from different countries and speaking different languages that use non-Latin orthography such as Arabic choose to transliterate their first name and surname in Romanized script, vis English. Due to the differences between the user’s native language and English in vowels and consonants and how they are pronounced, some people make vowel and consonant errors in the English spelling of their names due to the user’s proficiency level in English and their awareness level of the grapheme-phoneme correspondences in their native as well as English language. This study aims to investigate vowel omissions in the English spelling of Arabic personal names, what kind of vowels are omitted, location of the missing vowels, why educated Arabs omit vowels in the English spelling of their names, whether vowel omissions are attributed to transfer from the native language (Arabic) or lack of competence in English spelling. Analysis of a sample of Arabic personal names with missing vowels in their English spelling showed that in the vast majority of misspelled names, one short vowel is missing. In most cases, the missing short vowel is fatha /a/ in the first syllable of the name. It seems that educated Arabs transfer the Arabic vowel system to English. The Arabic orthographic system has 3 long vowels represented by written letters ا و ي /a:, i:, u:/ and 3 short vowels that are represented by diacritics which are pronounced but not shown in the written form of Arabic words. In addition, omission of short vowels in the English spelling of Arabic names may be attributed to how the name is pronounced in the dialect of the Arabic speaker, not how it is pronounced in Standard Arabic, especially when the vowel is in the initial syllable of some surnames. Vowel deletion may also be due to insufficient proficiency in English and lack of contrastive knowledge of the Arabic and English vowel and spelling systems. Examples of transliterated personal names with missing vowels, explanations, causes, and recommendations for more accurate spelling in English are given.

Article information


International Journal of English Language Studies

Volume (Issue)

5 (4)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Absence of Vowels in the English Spelling of Arabic Personal Names on Social Media . International Journal of English Language Studies, 5(4), 88–97.



Arabic personal names, Facebook spelling, Arabic-English transliteration, name transliteration, spelling competence, missing vowels, vowels deletions, Arabic short vowels, educated Arabs.