Research Article

Word Formation with Foreign Lexemes: The Case of Hybrid Compounds in Arabic


  • Reima Al-Jarf Full Professor of English and Translation Studies, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Arabic compounds consist of a group of two or three words joined together into one vocabulary unit. Syntactically, Arabic compounds consist of a Noun + adjective; Noun + apposited noun; Noun + apposited noun + adjective; Noun + apposited N. + apposited N; Noun + the negative particle لا no/non; compound adverbs; and compound particles. Orthographically, the lexical items in most Arabic compounds are separated by a blank, few are agglutinated (spelled together) and few more are hyphenated. This study aimed to explore the status of hybrid compounds in Arabic within its terminological structure; their denotative and connotative meanings; how productive they are; whether they are used in Standard or Colloquial Arabic; whether they are permanent or transient; in which domains they are used; and why hybrid compounds are coined by Arabic-speakers. To achieve those purposes, a corpus of hybrid compounds containing the foreign lexemes/affixes Arabia, book, café, cast, center, co, com., expo, extra, for, gate, hyper, leaks, link, mania, mart, media, meter; mini, mobile, net, pal, pedia, petro, pharma, phone, press, pro, sat, show, soft, super, talk, tech, tic, times, top, tube, ultra, web, and wiki combined with Arabic lexemes was collected. Data analysis showed that specialized hybrid compounds, those used for names of satellite T.V. station, names of electronic newspapers, news agencies and companies are more permanent than those used during the Arab Spring or those used in names of forums, blogs, T.V. shows or newspaper articles which appeared for a short time then disappeared. The former set of hybrid compounds are used in Standard Arabic and formal contexts, whereas the latter set is used in Colloquial Arabic. The former constitutes a small set of hybrid compounds coined by specialists and Arabic language academies, whereas the latter is more prolific as those compounds were created by activists, political analysts, journalists, and social media users. The study revealed promotional, linguistic, globalization and sociocultural factors for coining hybrid compounds, and lack of a business naming policy. Hybrid compounds constitute a threat to Arabic and hinder the linguistic development of the young generation.

Article information


Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies

Volume (Issue)

5 (11)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2023). Word Formation with Foreign Lexemes: The Case of Hybrid Compounds in Arabic. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies, 5(11), 15–27.



Hybrid compounds, lexical hybridization, lexical hybrids, hybridized lexical items, lexical innovations, word formation processes, foreign lexemes, borrowed lexemes, Arabic language