In Jordan there are two noticeable yet subtle dialects, those of us who say “Gal” and those who say “2al”. For the non-Arab reader both words mean the same thing: “said”. The ‘G’ and the ‘2’ represent the letter ‘Qaf’ in Arabic but is pronounced differently. The first one: “gal” sounds exactly like it’s read in English. The second one: “2al” sounds more like the name “Al”.
For the most part the “2al” people live in West Amman and the “Gal” people in the rest of the country. It’s not just the word “said” but it’s reserved for anything starting with the letter “Qaf” like “ga3deen” (sitting), “golak” (tell you), “gabel” (before), “groush” (piasters), “gerd” (monkey), “gayem” (getting up), “galb” (heart), “garaf” (disgusting) et cetera.
To replace the “G” with the “2” is to imply a sense of sophistication, perhaps a more modern or chic use of the Arabic language. Sometimes we describe a person as the “gal w golna” type or the “2al ou 2olna” kind of guy. It implies geography and status. The same way some people in Jordan will call their parents “yaba” and “yamma” as opposed to “baba” and “mama”. You can tell where they’re from and to an extent what kind of environment they exist in.
But it also implies gender; many guys in Jordan, despite where they’re from or their status, will say “gal” to imply roughness and manliness. The females on the other hand will say “2al” because it’s much softer and somewhat feminine.
Maybe there are more explanations for it. Maybe it’s a trend, maybe it’s inevitable with increasing social divides.
I honestly use both, but never consciously. It’s an automatic mechanism in the dialect handler in my mind. In Amman my tongue will say “2al ou 2olna” and when I’m outside Amman it switches to “Gal ou Golna”. It can’t be helped. I think on a subconscious level it is my desire to fit in with the surrounding environment and so my tongue, like a chameleon, changes accordingly.
But there are other words that run along the same lines. For example the “K” and the “Ch” representing the letter “Kaf”. In most of Jordan you’ll hear “Chayfak?” (how are you?) in Amman you’ll hear “Keefak?”. Or “Chalb” and “Kalb” (dog).
The idiosyncrasies of our culture never cease to amaze me.