Research Article

Non-Conventional Spelling in Informal, Colloquial Arabic Writing on Facebook


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


Arabic has a standard form used in formal situations and print materials and a non-standard, colloquial form used in daily conversation. Each Arab country has its own dialect. Before social media, educated Arabs used to use Standard Arabic when they communicated in writing. But with the advent of social media, people started to use non-standard Arabic, i.e., their own dialects, when they communicate in writing on social media. A corpus of spelling errors in Arabic was collected from Facebooks posts and analyzed to find out the types of errors made, the strategies Arab Facebook spellers use, why educated Arabs make those errors and their effect on decoding ability and communication. It was found that Facebook users completely ignore Standard Arabic spelling rules. They spell words the way they pronounce them in their local dialects. They delete vowels, substitute long vowels by short ones and vice versa and confuse consonants with the same sound. Some graphemes are no longer used. They connect several words together as one word, ignoring the pauses between them. The same word or phrase, in the same dialect, is spelled differently by different users. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what some users are trying to say. It seems that the non-standard Arabic spelling used on Facebook is undergoing a simplification process. Users do not seem to recognize word boundaries, cannot connect phonemes with the graphemes they represent and cannot distinguish vowel length in their spoken dialect. A detailed classification of spelling anomalies, the faulty spelling strategies used and reasons for those spelling weaknesses detected are reported.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

6 (4)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Non-Conventional Spelling in Informal, Colloquial Arabic Writing on Facebook. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 6(4), 35–47.



Arabic spelling, spelling errors, spelling anomalies, spelling deviations, Colloquial Arabic spelling, educated Arabs, non-standard spelling, social media Arabic spelling, social media spelling variations, Arabic spelling strategies.