نسوة / نسوان / نساء

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greg from vancouver

Senior Member
Canada, Vancouver
Could someone please explain the usage rules for the following three variations:
نسوة ونسوان ونساء

Are they interchangeable? I have only encountered the latter in my studies.

Thanks,
Greg
 
  • Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I think نسوان is more colloquial than the other two. نسوة seems to be applied to small groups of specific women, whereas نساء refers to larger numbers or to women in general. So in other words, نسوة is جمع قلّة and نساء is جمع كثرة. That's how I understand these words, but I could be wrong.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    I checked a few dictionaries, they don't seem to say what the difference is (نسوان is also included so I would think that it's not just colloquial); but I do agree with Wadi Hanifa, that's how I understand it too. (نساء is more women than نسوة).
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    I believe نسوان is considered vulgar in some areas, so it should probably be avoided. I'm fairly certain it is considered vulgar in Egypt and possibly in Syria as well. I am not totally sure about Syria, and am basing my guess on an Arabic professor from Syria I had who took offense at the usage of the word and said it should be avoided.
     

    cute angel

    Senior Member
    the universe
    all these words are the same in meaning but they are different .First these words are the plural of woman امرأة in Arabic.نسوة and نساء are used in standard Arabic but نسوان used in dialects like in Syria .

    I don't agree with you brother Josh this word is not vulgar no it's not .Yeah sometimes it's but in a special speech.

    Also I do agree that نسوة is a number of women which is less than نساء because نساء is vast than نسوة .
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    I believe نسوان is considered vulgar in some areas, so it should probably be avoided. I'm fairly certain it is considered vulgar in Egypt and possibly in Syria as well. I am not totally sure about Syria, and am basing my guess on an Arabic professor from Syria I had who took offense at the usage of the word and said it should be avoided.
    Really? In my Syrian Arabic course, نسوان is given as the normal plural of the singular مرة (colloquial for امرأة).
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In Palestinian Arabic, نسوان is by no means vulgar. It is the ordinary, everyday word for "women."
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    In Egypt, it is an offensive word that you would better not used in front of women :) (except in lower classes).

    The colloquial word for "women" is settaat سِتَّات .
     

    SofiaB

    Senior Member
    English Asia
    What about these singular words for woman خانم امراة سيدة مراة ?
    I have heard مراة is also offensive in Egypt.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    In the Levant, to my knowledge مرة mara is just the regular word for woman. It can also mean wife (marti my wife - I even heard this on a plane once). It is not a term of any special respect - but it is just a regular, unoffensive word. خانم, ست, مادام are all various terms of respect for women. I don't think they are in equal distribution all over the Levant and some dialects prefer certain words. I think خانم is originally of Persian origin.

    I have a memory of this coming up in a thread sometime in the last year.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    Both مرة and نسوان exist in classical Arabic, nowadays it is only used in colloquial. In Iraq too they are not vulgar; no particular respect but not rude, vulgar or disrespectful. I've noticed that in the Gulf States (at least in UAE) they don't really use نسوان and tend to use حريم instead. I don't know whether they find it vulgar or not though.
     

    Ander

    Senior Member
    France
    First these words are the plural of woman امرأة in Arabic.نسوة and نساء are used in standard Arabic but نسوان used in dialects like in Syria .
    These words must actually be the plural of the feminine of insaan, or of a similar word with the same root. I'm just wondering.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    What about these singular words for woman خانم امراة سيدة مراة ?
    I have heard مراة is also offensive in Egypt.
    Yes, the word pronounced as 'mara' is offensive, but miraat-, always used in construction -- miraati, miraatu, is the common way to say the wife of someone and is not offensive.
     

    sinan gul

    Banned
    Urdu
    I don't think مرة existed in Classical Arabic. How was it pronounced? مَرَة? I know إمْرَأَة existed, of course. And I have never seen نِسْوان used in Modern Standard Arabic. I tried using it once and I was told that I was mixing slang with MSA. I said something like النسوان اللواتي (the women who). Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the guy I was talking to was referring to my use of اللواتي, because I think the MSA plural of التي is اللاتي, not اللواتي.
     

    Hemza

    Senior Member
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)
    In Morocco (as well as Mauritania) there is:
    مراة (woman, everywhere)
    نسوية (woman, in the South but less common that مراة)
    عيالات (women everywhere)
    نسوان/نساوين (women, in the South)
     
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