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Italian words in Libyan Arabic Posted by on Sep 7, 2020 in Arabic Language, Culture, Dialect, Language, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

Welcome to another post. Today’s post is of interest to those who are keen to learn spoken Arabic as the focus is Libyan Arabic اللهجة الليبية . As is the case with vernacular Arabic in general, dialects are not 100% Arabic and include many words that are of foreign origin من أصل أجنبي, mainly for political reasons لأسباب سياسية.

I hope the post will be particularly useful to our Italian speaking readers who are interested in learning spoken Arabic. Being aware of these words can give you a good start at that as you will be able to understand the gist of what’s being said as the words we will study below are used in everyday life الحياة اليومية.

Image by MichaelGaida on

Libyan Arabic is one of the Arabic dialects that have been heavily influenced تأثرت بشكل كبير by the Italian language and culture as there are many originally Italian words إيطالية الأصل that were adopted due to the Italian occupation الاحتلال الإيطالي  of Libya لليبيا  in 1911.

The influence is very obvious واضح جدًا  in Tripoli – the capital العاصمة – more than other parts of Libya.

So, the words we’re going to look at are divided into 5 main categories: the street الشارع, the car السيارة, shopping التسوق, the house المنزل  and clothes ملابس.

✨  ✨  ✨  ✨  

*Main Sound changes from Italian to Libyan: 

As is the case with loan words الكلمات الدخيلة, the Italian words that are adopted and integrated into Libyan Arabic have gone through a process of phonetic change تغيير صوتي, i.e. the pronunciation of words نطق الكلمات changed to sound more Arabic and less Italian. This is mainly achieved through changing the way letters (consonants الحروف الساكنة & vowels حروف العلّة) are pronounced.

In this list, I put examples of a few combination of letters that are used to replace the Latin ones originally found in the Italian words that were adopted.

P > b ب

Ci & ce /Tsh/ > sh ش or ja جَـ

Ta > TA طا

V > w و

Sa > SA صَـ

= = = = = = = = 

Let’s move on to the words:

*Italicised & bolded (Italian).

*Bolded (Libyan).



Palo (Street pole) – بَالّو

Marciapiede (Sidewalk)  – مَرْشَبِيدِي

Semaforo (Traffic lights) – سِيمافْرو

Salita (Slope) – صَالِيطَه

Angolo (Corner) – أنْجولي

Giardino (Garden) – جِرْدِينه

Parcheggio (Parking lot) – بَرْكِيدْجُو

= = = = = = = = 

✨Car -السيارة✨

Cofano (car boot) – كُوفِينو

Bicicletta  (bike) – بَشْكْلِيطَه  

Cancello  (Gate) – كَنْشِيلّو

Lavaggio (Car wash) – لَاوادْجُو

Gomma (Tyre) – قُومّّا 

Ammortizzatore (Shock absorber) – مَظَّاطُورِي

= = = = = = = = 

✨Shopping – التسوق✨

Borsa (Bag) – بورْظا

Cassa  (Cashier) – كاصّه

Spesa (grocery) سْبيزا

Farina (Flour) – فَارينا

Macchina (Machine)مَاكِينة

Confetto (Sugared almond) – كُنْفِيتّي

= = = = = = = = 

✨House – المنزل✨

Cucina (Kitchen) – كُوجينا

Rifugio (Basement) – رِيفودْجُو

Lavandino (Wash basin) – لَونْدينو

Bagno (Bath) – بانْيو

Tavolo (Table) – طاوْلة

Forchetta (Fork) – فَرْكِيتّا

Pala (Dust pan) – بَالَه

Veranda (Balcony) – فِيرانْدا

= = = = = = = = 

✨clothes – ملابس ✨

Sacco (Travel Bag) – صَاكُّو

Tuta (Tracksuit) – توتَه

Giubbotto (Jacket) -جِيبوطّو

Cappotto (Coat) – كَبّوطْ 

Guanti (Gloves) – قْوانْتي

Gonna (Skirt) – قُونَّه

Sciarpa (Scarf) – شَارْبَه

Smalto (Nail polish) – زْمالْطٌو

= = = = = = = = 

See you in the next post, keep learning!✨✨

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About the Author: Hanan

Hi, this is Hanan :) I'm an Arabic linguist. I completed my PhD in Linguistics - 2018. My PhD thesis was entitled Code-switching as an evaluative strategy: identity construction among Arabic-English bilinguals. I'm also a qualified public service translator & interpreter.

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