English Inflected with Iraqi Arabic

The following examples of Iraqis speaking English may help calibrate our voice work in rehearsal. (Please note, I’m not certain about what these accents may indicate about class, regional specificity, or affiliations of the speakers.)

First is an episode of This American Life: Will They Know Me Back Home? (March 11, 2011). Act 2 features an interview with Sarah, an Iraqi working as an interpreter for the Americans. This is helpful both in terms of the linguistic information, but also for the life of an interpreter. I’m linking to the episode here. Follow the link, and click the red “Launch Player” button. Once the episode plays, forward it to Act 2 (28:10).

Next, a great video of an interview with a male interpreter in Iraq. Sadly, YouTube won’t let me embed the video, but you can see it by following THIS LINK. Also worth watching because it provides a window in to this particular interpreter’s world view.

This is another interview with an Iraqi interpreter, in it he talks about his work and how he learned English.


Here are two videos of an American serviceman interviewing an Iraqi boy who has some very basic (but surprisingly decent) English.

• The first interview: click HERE.

• The second interview: click HERE.


Finally, here’s a trailer for a documentary about Iraqi women, human rights, politics, and the invasion. In it, Nadje Al-Ali speaks at length in highly proficient, accented English.


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