When I was looking for some Arabic lyrics I was wondering why there are numbers inbetween letters in some words (eg. "Aw3a Tes2ny" or "7obak"). Is there a reason behind this?

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    Just like the Latin letters, the numbers represent letters of the Arabic alphabet. See e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_chat_alphabet Mar 10, 2015 at 10:58
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    In general, there exist various transliteration systems for foreign languages. Romanization (writing a foreign language with Latin script) is not an exception. The same applies to phonetic transcriptions. Extra symbols exist since Latin alphabet may not be sufficient for the purpose. You may check SAMPA for English as a nice example. Mar 10, 2015 at 12:47

2 Answers 2


The numbers represent Arabic letters of similar shapes, which mostly don't have an intuitive Roman equivalent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_chat_alphabet

For example, 7 is ح and 3 is ع, which represent [ħ] and [ʕ].

A similar phenomenon exists in transliterated Cyrillic, you sometimes see 4 being used for Ч; the similarity in shape is reinforced by the coincidental fact that the numeral "four" begins with that letter in all of the Cyrillic-using Slavic languages.

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    I'd explicitly note that these come from an older cellphone environment, where diacritics weren't an option and the convenience of using numbers outweighed the value of only using letters.
    – prosfilaes
    Apr 13, 2022 at 3:42

There are some arabic sounds that don't exist in English. We use numbers to express those sounds.

For example: In English, you use two characters together for expressing a specific sound such as "sh". But In arabic, we don't use two characters together. we use numbers instead.

To learn more about the pronunciation of these characters and sounds you can watch this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPOA0sGx9Zo

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