Arabic language

From ArticleWorld

Arabic language is the largest language spoken in the Semitic branch, with an estimate of 200 million native speakers. Arabic is spoken widely in more than 20 countries. It is related to Hebrew and Aramaic. Arabic is considered the liturgical language of Islam as it is the language of Qur'an (Muslims Holy book). A few English words are derived from Arabic, such as sugar "sukkar", cotton "kotn", or alcohol "kohol."

Many Arabic words made their way into the Spanish language, during the Muslim reign (8th – 11th century). Maltese the spoken language of Malta, is considered the only surviving European language which is driven primarily from Arabic. It also contains a large number of Italian words.

Literary and Classical Arabic

The Arabic language used commonly as everyday language is different than the one used is books or formal writings. Arabs view Literary Arabic as the typical and correct language, while anything thing else are just dialects. Literary Arabic is the most eloquent Arabic language, is used by the media (radio, television, books, magazines and newspapers). It is also the language of the Qur'an. Literary Arabic is the formal language of all Arab countries, and is the only form taught in schools. It is presumed that educated Arabs of any nationality can speak their local dialects and

Literary Arabic to an equal or lesser degree based on the level of their education. Western scholarships usually refer to the language of the Qur'an as Classical Arabic, while the language used in formal documents and speeches as Modern Standard Arabic. On the other hand, Arabs stress on that both forms are one, but the difference is in the degree of eloquence (the Arabic of the Qur'an is more eloquent). The grammatical rules and vocabulary are the same.

Arabic and Islam

It is sometimes difficult to translate certain Islamic concepts or Qu'ran verses without using the original Arabic terminology. As the Qur'an is written in Arabic, traditional Muslims believe it is not possible to translate it correctly to reflect its meaning and eloquence. It is even difficult for many educated Arabs to understand some verses in the Qu'ran without referring to an external dictionary or explanatory book.

Though Arabic is associated with Islam, it is also spoken by Arab Christians, Oriental Jews and other religious minorities in the region such as the Iraqi Mendaeans. Many Muslims in non-Arab Muslim countries do not speak Arabic, but only know some phrases and Qu'ranic verses especially the ones recited during prayers.


Colloquial Arabic is the term for the spoken dialects of people throughout the Arab world. There are main dialects being spoken in North Africa and the Middle East. Sometimes there are significant differences in the dialects of the modern spoken Arabic across North Africa and the Middle East, making the language incomprehensible. Sometimes, Arabs speaking to each other in different dialects may need to switch into Literary Arabic to be able to communicate. Some dialects such as the Iraqi dialect is hard to comprehend by most other Arab speakers, due to the Persian influence in it.

The major groups are:

  • Egyptian Arabic
  • Maghreb Arabic (spoken in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and western Libya)
  • Levantine Arabic (spoken in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestinian Occupied Territory)
  • Iraqi Arabic
  • Gulf Arabic (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman)
  • Some other dialects include Sudanese Arabic and Yemeni Arabic.