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Self-isolation hashtags in Arabic (1) Posted by on Mar 24, 2020 in Arabic Language, Culture, Current Affairs, Dialect, Language, Language Immersion, morphology, semantics, Vocabulary

As is usually the case at times of crisis وقت الأزمات, the way people respond online – particularly on Twitter in this digital age العصر الرقمي – is interestingly from a linguistic perspective. In thi blog post, I’m going to report on the creative ways الطرق الإبداعية Arabic speaking people responded to استجابوا إلي and commented on علّقوا على the self-isolation campaign حملة العزل الذاتي. I’m doing so through looking at some of the different hashtags الهاشتاجز / الوسوم  and slogans شعارات that went rival in several Arab countries. Due to the rich data I found and number of Arabic dialects, this blog post will be of two parts.

cleaning in twitter times

Image by S O C I A L . C U T on

On Twitter, people talked about the Coronavirus and social distancing التباعد الاجتماعية  in both serious جدّيّة  and funny  مضحكة ways. This took the form of different hashtags in both Standard Arabic and many varieties of spoken Arabic. In addition to endless number of jokes and photos, there were also very interesting and encouraging مشجّعة  phrases that I will be sharing with you some example of.


*Standard Arabic العربية الفصحى

There were many hashtags in standard Arabic, such as:


Stay home #ابق_في_المنزل
Your safety is my safety #سلامتك_هي_سلامتي
 Home Quarantine #الحجر_المنزلي

There was also the slogan of:


الاكتفاء بــالسلام من بعيد ليس مُعيبًا بل أمر واجب –

(Being satisfied with greetings from a distance isn’t dishonourable/disgraceful but it’s an obligation).


*Dialects اللهجات المحكية

Many countries will obviously be covered here. I will start with the Levant region.

  • Levantine Arabic/اللهجات الشامية 

As a native speaker of Arabic, I found the Lebanese hashtags the most creative and that’s why I’m dedicating most of the first part of this blog post to it! The most popular hashtag in Lebanon is the vernacular version of ابقَ في المنزل>


The imperative verb خلّيك  Xallee-k means “stay”, from the infinitive يخلّي  y-xallee


There were also two other hashtags in the negated form, but they didn’t seem to be specific to one region. These are:


(Don’t be reckless).

Here, there is a negating feature “ma1Ma is only used to negate verbs in the present tense in spoken Arabic (especially Levantine and Gulf Arabic), but never in Standard Arabic.ما that precedes the verb تستهتر  t-istahter. The noun from that is “Istihtaar” (recklessness).


(Don’t shake hands).

The negating feature here “laلا  precedes the verb تصافح  t-SaafiH. The noun from that is “muSaafaHa”.

 = = = = = = =

Now, let’s move on to some of the encouraging sentences and posts. (This is one of the posts that people were circulating but couldn’t find the original source of)

>>The first one is:

post about self-isolation

Image by on Sarah Zoghbi on

  خليك بالبيت – لنعمل عرسنا وتهيّص معنا

Xalee-k   bil-bait – la  naʕmul  ʕiris-naa  w  t-hayyiS  maʕnaa

(Stay home – so we can do our wedding and you can have fun with us).


The interesting verb here is “thayyiSتهيّص  from “yhayyiSيهيّص , i.e. having lots of fun. This verb is used widely in Levantine and Egyptian Arabic. The noun from it is “HaySa” or “he:Sa” هيصه, respectively.


>>Another interesting one is a call for young people to self-isolate in order to protect their grandparents.

خليك بالبيت: لنرجع نروح ناكل عند تيتا

Xalee-k   bil-bait – la  n-irjaʕ  ne:kol  ʕand te:ta

(Stay home – so we can go back to eating at grandma’s again).


The interesting word here is “grandmother” which is “te:taتيته  in Levantine and Egyptian Arabic.

 = = = = = = =

Next week, I will be focusing on the rest of the dialects, particularly: Jordanian Arabic, Gulf Arabic and Maghrebi Arabic (Arabic spoken in North Africa) – so stay tuned 🙂
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About the Author: Hanan Ben Nafa

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


  1. Elisabetta:

    Ahlan ya Hanan!
    Thank you for your interesting posts!
    I am from Italy.
    I can speak a bit of Arabic, expecially Maghrebi Dialect and I am trying to learn the Middle East ones: so your information are very useful to me.
    Now I am in Saudi Arabia.
    Ma3a assalama

    • Hanan:

      @Elisabetta Ahlan Elisabetta

      I’m happy you found the post useful. Mashallah, most learners find Maghrebi the most difficult.

      Thank you for passing by, stay safe كوني بخير 🙂