Posts Tagged ‘Modern Standard Arabic’
Arabic is now the 6th most spoken language in the world and is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. Arabic started off as a language that was only spoken by a small population. Nomadic tribes would travel around the Arabian Peninsula and speak Arabic, a language they were very proud of. Prose, poetry and oral literature were common ways to communicate through Arabic in those times.
Arabic is a “Semitic,” language and is most closely related to Aramaic and Hebrew. Other Semitic languages include Maltese, Mehri, Phoenician and Tigrinya. Semitic languages are based on a consonantal root system. Every word in Arabic is derived from one or another root word (most likely a verb).
By the 7th Century A.D., Arabic started to spread to the Middle East as many people started to convert to Islam. During this time of religious conversions, Arabic replaced many South Arabian languages, most of which are no longer commonly spoken or understood languages.
Arabic is the official language of many countries in the Middle East such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
There are three forms of Arabic; Qur’anical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic. Qur’anical Arabic is not used in conversation or in non- religious writing and Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the Arabic world. Colloquial Arabic refers to Arabic that is spoken with a dialect.
There are more than 30 different forms of Colloquial or Spoken Arabic. Some of the dialects that are the most common are Egyptian Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Sudanese Arabic and North Levantine Arabic. Some dialects can be so strong that although people are speaking the same language it’s hard to communicate. When this happens, Arabic speakers revert back to speaking the Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Arabic is used for TV, films, plays, poetry and in books. Arabic Courses learnt at the Arab Academy is taught in the Modern Standard form.
Arabic is a language that can be transformed to adapt to new words that need to be created because of science or technology. However, the written Arabic language has seen no change in the alphabet, spelling or vocabulary in at least 4 millenniums.
What are the main Arabic Dialects?
Students wishing to learn Arabic -especially colloquial Arabic- are faced with so many options and dialects. Whereas Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the same throughout the Arab world, the dialects vary according to the geographical location. The further away the countries, the greater the variation between the dialects. In a broad sense there is a wide difference between the dialects of eastern countries (Arabian Peninsula) and dialects of western countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and western Libya). Dialects in the Middle East, may be broadly classified as follows:
- Dialects of Egypt and Sudan
- Dialects of the Arabian Peninsula
- Dialects of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine
- Dialects of Iraq
- Dialects of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and western Libya
Within each category, further sub-classification takes place, depending amongst other factors – on the location, level of education, and degree of urbanization.
- How Many People Use Arabic Today?
Arabic is the native language of 220 million people living in 22 Arab countries. It was declared an official language of the UN in January 1974. The 6 official languages at the UN are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Arabic is also the language in which Islam’s holy book, the Quran, was revealed. Hence, it is the liturgical language of the nearly one billion Muslims around the world, who comprise 20% of the world’s population. Muslims today are spread across more than 60 countries.
- What is Classical Arabic?
- What is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)?
- What is Colloquial Arabic?
- What Has Made it Possible to preserve Classical Arabic for so Long?
The fact that a language has survived for fourteen hundred years, over such a vast area of land, and spoken by so many different people is a miracle in its own right.
What has stood against the fragmentation of Classical Arabic into different languages?
The presence of the Classical Arabic ‘model’ document – the sacred Quran. The Quran has driven Muslims to learn Arabic; it has been read, recited, analyzed and studied by all Muslims throughout the centuries. The establishment of codified rules for Classical Arabic and the great emphasis given to mastering these rules were instrumental factors in the continued survival of the language.