Exploring Linguistic Diversity in Kuwait: From Kuwaiti Arabic to Persian and Indian Languages
Although Modern Standard Arabic is Kuwait’s official language, Kuwaiti Arabic is commonly used as the everyday language. Kuwaitis of Iranian ancestry speak Kuwaiti Persian.
Kuwaiti Arabic is a variant of Gulf Arabic and is also known as Khaleeji Arabic, which has different variants in rural areas and urban areas. As mentioned above, Kuwaiti Arabic has borrowed several loan words from Persian, but also Indian Languages, Turkish, English, and Italian owing to immigrants -which causes it to differ from MSA. Kuwaiti Arabic is nevertheless easily understood throughout the Arabic-speaking world, probably due to the spread of Kuwait’s soap opera industry, especially in Tunisia and Jordan.
Persian immigrants from Iran have made up a big community throughout the years, and they are known in Kuwait by the name Ayam (or Ajam) and Ahwaz. They commonly speak Kuwaiti Persian, which is known in Kuwait as ʿīmi and is a combination of different varieties of the Persian language. However, it is an endangered language and will disappear in Ayam families within the next few generations, since most young Ayam are only native Kuwaiti Arabic speakers.
As far as education is concerned, both English and French are taught in school and well understood as they are considered two business languages. Urdu, Hindi, and Tagalog are also quite commonly spoken in this Emirate, owing to the migration of Pakistanis and Indians and to the outsourcing of most labor forces from the Philippines.