Structure dataset 64: Juba Arabic

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 64.

Juba Arabic is an Arabic-based pidgincreole spoken in the Republic of South Sudan. At present, Juba Arabic is the major lingua franca of South Sudan as well as of large diaspora communities in Sudan, Egypt, the United States, and Australia. As Juba Arabic has many second- and third-language speakers, it is difficult to estimate the number of its speakers. Since 2005, Juba Arabic has been recognized as "national language", whereas English is the only "official language" of South Sudan. While it does not possess an established standard orthography, Juba Arabic is widely written in the Latin script.

It is doubtful whether we can speak of a continuum in the case of Juba Arabic and its Sudanese Arabic lexifier. The prolonged coexistence of Juba Arabic with Sudanese Arabic has resulted in increasing structural affinity between this pidgincreole and its lexifier (labeled as "Arabic interference" in the data set). The structural effects of this contact situation vary a great deal according to sociolinguistic variables such as the speakers' residence and their degree of education. Urban speakers and people educated in Arabic generally speak acrolectal varieties, while rural and recently urbanized people tend to speak basilectal varieties. Polylectal variation may be entirely a matter of lexical switching (e.g. the basilectal/mesolectal ta/bita against the acrolectal ḥagg as possessive marker) or else may include variation affecting phonological rules as well (e.g. the absence of pharyngeal sounds in basilectal varieties against the integration of etymological [ʕ] and [ʔ] in acrolectal/mesolectal varieties). The default lect documented in APiCS is a mesolectal variety spoken by young and middle-aged English-educated male speakers born in Juba and displaced in Khartoum in the late 1990s. In the case of our informants, knowledge of Sudanese Arabic correlates with awareness of separateness and ability to keep it apart from Juba Arabic.

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No. Feature Value lect Details Source
No. Feature Value lect Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b t d ʈ ɟ k g ʔ
Sibilant affricate d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ
Non-sibilant fricative f x ɣ h
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel long high front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel long high back rounded vowel ɪlowered high front unrounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel long higher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel long higher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɛːlong lower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel ɔːlong lower mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel long low central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 ɓ  voiced bilabial implosive plosive
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value lect Details Source