Code-Mixing Consumptions among Arab Students


Arabic-English code-mixing is well known as Arabizi. Arabizi is a language phenomenon distinguished among young Arab in particular nowadays. This research is to identify the level of Arabizi consumption among Arab students. The results should assist language experts and Arab governments to ascertain the extent of Arabizi in threatening the Arabic. A total of 1454 students participated in the study and selected randomly from 16 public schools in Saudi Arabia. The study utilized a questionnaire and focused on two different types of Arabizi, spoken and written. Spoken Arabizi measured based on 50 selected Arabizi words using Cronbach’s Alpha scale, while written Arabizi measured based on 14 distinguished Arabizi alphabets using percentage statistics. Findings have shown the level of spoken Arabizi consumption is low and written Arabizi is moderate. The study concludes even the Arabizi has experienced great expansion that it is still in the early age. Experts should, however, carefully confront Arabizi and start a renaissance of Arabic opposing Arabizi starting today, considering its potentially harmful impact in future.

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Kenali, A. , Yusoff, N. , Kenali, H. and Kamarudin, M. (2016) Code-Mixing Consumptions among Arab Students. Creative Education, 7, 931-940. doi: 10.4236/ce.2016.77097.

Received 8 March 2016; accepted 16 May 2016; published 19 May 2016

1. Introduction

Little research has been carried out in the area of Arabic-English code-mixing, also known as Arabizi. Although many researchers have paid attention to Arabizi (Al-Mansor, 2013; Seraj, 2012) and the Arab governments have strictly eradicated the Arabic (Kaica, 2013) ; little is known about how much Arabizi is used and whether it actually threatens the use of standard Arabic. As a result, literature on Arabizi is missing and does not capture the intricacies (Asy-Syuairikh, 2014) .

Code-mixing is a common phenomenon that often ensues in abilingual ormultilingual society, which occurs when lexical and grammatical features of two or more languages exist in the same item (El-Zahraa, 2014) . Arabic-English code-mixing is often referred to as Arabizi (عربيزي), Arabish (عربيش), Franco-Arab (فرانكوعرب), and other terms. The famous term is Arabizi (عربيزي) which means a mix Arabic-English (عربي-إنجليزي) language practice. It is also known as the Youth New Era Language (لغةالعصرالشبابية) due to its distinguished and famed use among young people in particular (Ghazal, 2014; Seraj, 2012) .

Arabizi has already been found not only in conversations among young Arabs but also in their written Arabic dailies (A’wan, 2013) . Initially, written Arabizi was used by Arab expatriate around the world to communicate in Arabic over the Internet or for sending messages via cellular phones when the actual Arabic alphabet is unavailable for technical reasons, so they alternatively used Arabizi as a character encoding of Arabic (Hanaef, Ash-Shammari, & Al-Enzi, 2012) . Written Arabizi resembles coding system in a form of Latin script and Arabic numerals (A’wan, 2013; As-Salem, 2011) , such as writingعرب as 3rb, الحمدلله as Al7mdulillah and طمني عليك as 6mny3lk, while spoken Arabizi is used by Arabs for modernization (Al-’Awfi, 2014) . Nowadays, the development of technology is fast and uncontrolled, and the global information has become a wide world, which makes the translation process more impossible and difficult to use (As-Salman & Harraq, 2014) so they use the foreign words as its terms, such as hi as هاي, email as إيميل, download as دانلود and system as سيستم.

Spoken and written Arabizi has been used intentionally and unintentionally, in formal and informal daily use communication, entertainment, social media, signs and flyers, or even in students’ writing books (Seraj, 2014) , as well as in teaching (Tamuri & Rahimi, 2010) . Youth has started to think that Arabic doesn’t support globalization and they need Arabizito express modernization. Many applications and web pages were developed to support the Arabizi (As-Salman & Harraq, 2014) . Google as well added Arabiziinto its Input Tools Language and Arabic Translation Tools (“Google Tad’am Al-’Arabizi Ka Ahadi Lughatil Idkhal”, 2012; Mahmod, 2010) , which is indirectly, evidences the great impact of Arabizion Arabic.

Experts have started to mark Arabizi as a rival language of Arabic, which is obviously threatening the Arabic language (Duwairi, Marji, Sha’Ban, & Rushaidat, 2014; Yaghan, 2008) . Arabic experts have been aware of this and started a series of Anti-Arabizi campaigns around the Arab world. Anti-Arabizi was the main theme of World Arabic Language Day 2014 (Iu, 2013; Kaica, 2013) . Google as well stopped from supporting Arabizi and removed it from their language tools (Al-’Ashiyi, 2012) . Arabic experts’ reactions to Arabizi are typically quite negative, even when they themselves employ it sometimes (Seraj, 2014) . They emphasize the use of correct Arabic and marginalize the efforts of students to use alternative forms of language. It has been discouraged by Arabic experts at large due concerns that Arabizi will influence one or both of the languages, and lead to language decay, or because of a perception that Arabizi is considered a sign of limited language proficiency in one or both languages.

Although Arabizi is an important phenomenon in Arab world nowadays, its level of use has yet to be studied. Consequently, we have an incomplete picture of the phenomenon in reality. Regarding to Asy-Syuairikh (2014) :

“يجب أن نعترف أن اللغة العربية تواجه تحديات كثيرة لعل (العربيزي) أحدها، فانتشار اللغة الإنجليزية أصبح أمرا واقعا، ولها أفضلية في الجامعات والمؤسسات وسوق العمل، كما أنها لغة التواصل المفضلة في المجتمعات المتعددة اللغات والثقافات، إضافة إلى أن جميع التقنيات الحديثة تصمم حسب قواعد اللغة الإنجليزية وحروفها، وكل ذلك يشكل ضغطا على اللغة العربية. ويبدوا أن الحذر من خطر ظاهرة العربيزي لن يؤدي إلى حل هذه المشكلة أو غيرها من المشكلات اللغوية المرتبطة بانتشار اللغة العربية؛ فنحن بحاجة إلى دراسة هذه الظاهرة وغيرها من الظواهر اللغوية الطارئة باستخدام منهجيات البحث اللغوي الاجتماعي الكمية والكيفية”. “We must recognize that Arabic language is facing many challenges, including (Arabizi) where the spread of English has become a reality and it has the advantage in education, establishment and market values. English also stands as a preferred communication language of multilingual and multicultural communities. Besides, all modern technologies as well are designed using English. These things are putting pressures on the Arabic language. It seems the warning of Arabizi phenomenon does not lead to solute the problem or other linguistic problems related to the Arabic spread. We need to study this phenomenon and other serious linguistic phenomena using sociolinguistic research methodologies, using quantitative and qualitative approaches”.

Against this background, the purpose of this research is to measure the level of Arabizi consumption among Arab Students, in spoken and written language use. More specifically, this research aims to measure the level of Arabizi in threatening Arabic. The findings of this research may assist Arabic experts and Arab governments getting a crystal clear picture about the Arabizi phenomenon.

This paper structured in four parts. Firstly, it defines and reviews the two type of Arabizi, the spoken and the written. Then, it presents the research methodology and discusses the data analysis techniques. Next, the findings are discussed and summarized. Finally, discussion of implications, limitations and directions for further research are offered.

2. Defining and Implementing Arabizi

Arabizi is the most popular term of Arabic-English code-mixing. There are many terms used by Arabic scholars which refer to the same concept. In the English literature, it is known as Arabizi, Arabish, Moarrab or Franco-Arabic. In Arabic literatures, Arabizi also refers as:

Arabic scholars have different opinions in defining Arabizi regarding to its use. Some of them have presented Arabizi as Arabic text that is written using Latin characters based on both Modern Arabic (MSA) and Arabic dialects. Some of them deemed it to be Arabic-English language mixing that has been practiced in language speech. A large number of scholars believe that Arabizi covers both written and the spoken categories.

2.1. Written Arabizi

Generally, written Arabizi is a character encoding of Arabic to Latin script which used freely and intentionally with digits and symbols that do not exist in the basic Latin alphabets as a way in which Arabic script may be understood. This type of Arabizi is known as Advance Arabizi. The Advance Arabizi codes are:

Some Arabizi speakers still use American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) in writing Arabizi without using numerical and symbolical style. This type is considered as Basic Arabizi. The basic Arabizi codes are:

2.2. Spoken Arabizi

Scholars separate Arabizian from Arabizi in speech the language lacks or has confusions in syntax, morphology, lexical and phonetic terms. Arabizi can be used written in the same time it used spoken. Arabizi also can be applied as code-mixing as well as code-switching. But, somehow, scholars consider the Arabizi both code-mixing, with some inclusion of code-switching use. The code-mixing happened when Arabic words are being mixed with English words in one sentence, for examples:

إذا وصلت أعطيني ميس كول

Iza w9lt a36ny missed call

نتقابل في المول بعد اللانش أور

Nt8bl flmall b3dl lunch hour

خذ لك وجبة فاست فود من الدرايف ترو

5d lkwjbtfash foodminldrive true

الـــنيو لوك دا هو الستايل الجديد

El new lookda hwalstyle el jdid

عندي كلاس، أكلمك مرة ثانية أوكي

3ndy class, aklmkmrratnyaOK

البنات مشغولين بــالميك آب والبيبي، والشباب مشغولين بــــالدريف والبلايستيشن

El bnt msy3’oleen blmake upwlbaby, w $bab mash3’oleen bldriftwlplaystation

While, the code-switching happened when Arabic sentence being switched to English sentence in one use, for examples:

كل مرة أنا الغلطان. واي مي؟

Kl mrra w ana el 3’l6n.Why me?

عندي في البيت أرنوبة صغيرة. شي أز سو كيوت

3ndy fl bet arnoba s3’ira. She is so cute

إذا أحتجت أي شيء لت مي نو. أوكي؟

Iza e7tjt ay shy let me know, OK?

أو أم جي. أيش هذا؟

OMG.E$ hza?

فرصة سعيدة تعرفنا عليكم. كيب إن تاش

Frsa s3eeda t3rafna 3lekom.Keep in touch.

البنات اليوم عملولي حفلة. وات آ زبرايزس

El bnt el yom 3mloly 7fla.What a surprise

3. Research Methodology

The aim of this research was to identify the use of written and spoken Arabizi among Arab students. This descriptive study employed a survey research design using a set of questionnaires as a research tool. The questionnaire was developed based on selected Arabizi words (50 words) and Arabizi alphabets (14 alphabets). The pilot study was conducted in national secondaryschools in Saudi Arabia. 8national secondary schools were chosen in two districts in Mecca-Sahrqiyya and Jamum, via simple random sampling. The questionnaire was circulated in cooperation with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education and Mecca General Office of Education. Validity and reliability analysis were carried out in order to determine the validation and reliability of the questionnaire. Cronbach’s Alpha was used to measure internal consistency of the questionnaire items.

According to Coakes, Steed, & Ong (2009) , analpha value of >0.60 is acceptable. Based on Piaw (2006) , an alpha value of between 0.65 and 0.95 is considered as acceptable. Regarding to Vierra & Pollock (1992) , an alpha value of between 0.90 and 1.00 is Very Good Reliability. Referring to Borg & Gall (1979) , the alpha value of between 0.90 and 0.95 is Sufficient Coefficients. Based on those values, the pilot study indicated that the coefficient for construct support exploration is at an acceptable value of 0.91.

The current study was implemented in 16 national secondary schools in Mecca. A total of (1545)5th grade students were selected in two districts in Mecca-Gharbiyya and Kamel. The selection of the sample was again with cooperation of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education and Mecca General Office of Education. ALikert 5-point scale was used to measure the frequency of the spoken Arabizi use, while a percentage scale was used to measure the frequency of the written Arabizi use.

The Likert scale used was: 1) Once in a while/Very rarely (less than 20% of the time); 2) Rarely (between 20% - 40% of the time); 3) Sometimes (between 40% - 60% of the time); 4) Usually (between 60% - 80% of the time); and 5) Always (more than 80% of the time). Meanwhile, the interpretation of the mean score, with reference to Mohd Najib (2003) , spanned from very low (1.00 to 1.50), low (1.51 to 2.50), moderate (2.51 to 3.50), high (3.51 to 4.50) and very high at the score of 4.51 to 5.00 (Kamarudin, Yusoff, Yamat@Ahmad, & Ghani, 2016) .

4. Discussion

Table 1 shows means for student use of Spoken Arabizi. 50 items were used to measure the consumption. Out of the 50 items, there was no very low level (1.00 to 1.50), high level (3.51 to 4.50) and very high level (4.51 to 5.00). Most items were at the moderate level (2.51 to 3.50) with a total of 38 items. 12 items were at the low level (1.51 to 2.50) mean scores. Item 23, 10 and 21 have the highest mean level (i.e. 2.79), referring to the words سيستم (system), لينك (link) and اس ام اس (SMS). Item 41, 17 and 15 have the lowest mean level (i.e. 1.62),

Table 1. Descriptive statistics for students consumption of spoken Arabizi.

referring to the words أوكي (okey), موديل (model) and إيميل (email). The overall mean of 50 items are 2.18 at the low level.

Table 2 shows the percentage for student use of written Arabizi. 14 items were used to measure the consumption. Out of the 14 items, item 13, 1, 8 and 10 have the highest percentage (i.e. 87.47%), referring to the alphabet ق, ء, ص and ط. Item 11, 12 and 8 have the lowest percentage (i.e. 42.21%), referring to the alphabet ظ,غ and ض. The overall mean of 14 items are (51.30%) is at a moderate level.

5. Results

The results found the level of spoken Arabizi use among Arab students is weak (2.18), which means the level of the seriousness is also still weak. It may be due to the fact that the spoken Arabizi is still developing itself and still spreading among students. This founding concurs with Al-Munziri (2014) who believes that the Arabizi phenomenon is not growing very much yet. He states that Arabizi is still in its early age and still can be controlled, as it has ability to prevent or to raise the level of the seriousness in the future. These statistical results can be proven that most claimed research findings are false. Majority of previous studies claimed that spoken Arabizi became very widespread and serious in threatening the Arabic, as becoming difficult to control Al-Hamid (2014) and As-Sab’an (2014) concede that nowadays the Arabizi has become a big phenomenon and that youth prefers to use it rather than Arabic, such that their Arabic becomes poor because of such use. They point out that Arabizi is a very dangerous language phenomenon and has led to a large gap between Arabs and the Arabic. Az-Zawwadi (2014) as well stresses that the use of the spoken Arabizi has become very complicated and the Arabic has been shutout, such a competition in which Arabic fails to score. Asy-Syuairikh (2014) , it is remarkable that spoken Arabizi has become a favorite used by the community, especially by teens. Seraj (2014) as well points that the community tends to greet and communicate with each other using Arabizi, especially at social events and in daily use. They considered Arabizi as easier and more expressive style for them compared to Arabic. As-Sab’an (2014) also stresses that Arabizi is a new language style, which is used by all Arabs. Al-Mansor (2013) , Arabizi appeared as a communication and interaction tool between community members. Previous research in general shows that youth loves to use Arabizi as a language tool and that it has be-

Table 2. Descriptive statistics for student use of written Arabizi.

come such a mother language for them. The current research is to answer those expectations and to determine the prevalence ratio of spoken Arabizi among Arab students. In contrast, the current research retorts to the previous researches and affirms that spoken Arabizi use is still weak and still can be controlled. It is not as serious as it claimed by previous studies, but refers to the beginning of the growth and spread among Arabs.

The results also show that written Arabizi use among Arab students is still at an average level (51.3%). It may be due to the fact that Arabizi was expensed among the students but in average level, which means the Arabizi seriousness size is medium. This founding concurs with Al-Munziri (2014) that Arabizi is still a new phenomenon and is not as serious as seen by some. Asy-Syuairikh (2014) also stresses the expansion in the writing Arabizi is among particular groups and is controlled by teens. Al-’Annati (2014) points out that group of teens tends to write their Arabic dialect using Latin tools and prefers using it daily rather than Arabic. Al-’Ajmi (2014) also believes that writing Arabizi has become widespread among teens and affected their Arabic writing skill. Some previous studies have claimed that the use of writing Arabizi is serious and this phenomenon put pressure on the Arabic language when Arabs themselves disuse Arabic and state it with Arabizi as an alternative. As-Salman & Harraq (2014) , the majority of teens are using Arabizi but do not know that it is Arabizi. Az-Zawwadi (2014) also believes that Arab youth prefer to write in Arabizi more than Arabic. Al-Mansor (2013) also showed that writing Arabizi is growing every day to keep up with the globalization and the modernization. Seraj (2012, 2014) stressed that Arabizi has become very popular among students and that this phenomenon is the main cause of student’s weakness in practicing Arabic today. To determine the reality of the current study, the current research has made it is statistically clear that the level of writing Arabizi use among students is still moderate. This means that there has been an expansion in the use of Arabizi among students, but not that this expansion is not very serious. A large number of previous studies also have indicated that the use of written Arabizi among students is still moderate, which is what the present study aimed to prove statistically.

Getting a statistical view on spoken and written Arabizi is the main goal that the current study is intended to uncover. The findings show that spoken Arabizi practice among Arab students is low, while the written Arabizi practice is moderate, which means the Arabizi phenomenon is under control. Arabizi is not yet as serious as it deems by previous studies. However, the findings stress that Arabizi still is in a beginning of the growing and spreading and the level of its seriousness is able to increase or decrease in the future. These results provide a cue to pay attention, control, and prevent the Arabizi from being an alternative or a replacement for Arabic in the future. It shows the need to protect the Arabic and the necessity to control the Arabizi before it turns to a serious cancer in the future.

Although the research has reached its aims, there were some unavoidable limitations, especially in terms of generalizing the sample selection and applying them to different backgrounds. The research also faced difficulties in circulating the survey due to Saudi Arabian culture and etiquette. Teaming up with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education and Mecca General Office of Education made the sample selection process more elaborate and thorough, and facilitated the survey circulation process. However, this research only surveyed students in general. The thoroughness of the research findings could be further strengthened by surveying and interviewing students in specific cohorts such as age, gender, race, and residence to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Arabizi. Triangulating the data in other ways may identify students’ perception towards Arabizi. Additional research might also examine Arabizi from psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Thus, a final and worthwhile direction for future research would be to explore and discover such phenomena and provide a more complete understanding of Arabizi.


Sincerest thanks are due to the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education and Mecca General Office of Education for their invaluable help in sample selection and survey circulation processes.

Appendix A

Arabizi Questionnaire


Please rate yourself on the following language use.

1) once in a while/very rarely (less than 20% of the time)

2) rarely (between 20% - 40% of the time)

3) sometimes (between 40% - 60% of the time)

4) often/usually (between 60% - 80% of the time)

5) always (more than 80% of the time)


Please fill in the gapes.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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