Arabic Around the World

Arabic is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. The geographical reach of Arabic is connected to the Arabic conquests beginning in the 8th century CE. Modern Arabic has a variety of sub dialects and these various Arabic dialects are spoken throughout the Arab world. Standard Arabic is widely studied and known throughout the Islamic world.

The Arabic language has lent a number of words to languages spoken in Islamic countries or in those in which Islamic Caliphates once ruled (e.g. Spain). The Arabic language has also been the recipient of similar influences and has also borrowed words from other languages including Persian and Sanskrit. In the Middle Ages, Arabic was the vehicle of culture, science, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.

As a consequence many European languages such as Spanish and Portuguese have also borrowed numerous words from it. Even Sephardic Jewish communities of the medieval period living in Spain and throughout North Africa and in the present day Middle East spoke and wrote in Arabic. As far as the term "Arabic" is concerned, it may refer to either literary Arabic or the localized varieties of Arabic often referred to as "colloquial Arabic.

"Literary written Arabic is generally regarded as the standard Arabic language. All other "Arabics" are viewed as mere dialects. Literary Arabic generally refers to the language used in television and print media across North Africa and the Middle East. It also refers to the language of the Q'uran. In contrast, "colloquial" Arabic refers to the regional varieties derived from Classical Arabic, which constitute the Arabic language as spoken in everyday settings.

Arabic dialects sometimes differ sufficiently to be mutually incomprehensible to each other, especially in pronunciation. These dialects are generally unwritten, although a certain amount of literature exists in many of them. Literary Arabic or classical Arabic is the official language of all Arab countries and is the only form of Arabic taught in schools at all stages. When educated Arabs of different nationalities engage in conversation Literary Arabic may be used for communication sake. Classical Arabic can be distinguished from Modern Standard Arabic. Classical Arabic is considered normative; modern authors attempt to follow the grammatical norms established by classical grammarians, and to use the vocabulary defined in Classical dictionaries.

The influence of Arabic has been most profound in Islamic countries. Arabic is a major source of vocabulary for Berber, Kurdish, Persian, Swahili, Urdu, Turkish, Malay Indonesian, and even Hindi in its colloquial variety The major dialectical variations are as follows: Egyptian Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic (Algerian Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Tunisian Arabic, Maltese and western Libyan Arabic), Levantine Arabic (Western Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, western Jordanian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic),Iraqi Arabic (and Khuzestani Arabic) ,East Arabian Arabic (Eastern Saudi Arabia, Western Iraq, Eastern Syrian, Jordanian and parts of Oman), Gulf Arabic (Bahrain, Saudi Eastern Province, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, and Oman) Hassānīya (in Mauritania, Mali and western Sahara), Sudanese Arabic, Hijazi Arabic (western Saudi Arabia), Najdi Arabic (Najd region of central Saudi Arabia),and Yemeni Arabic (Yemen to southern Saudi Arabia).

Jacob Lumbroso is a world traveler and an enthusiast for foreign languages, history, and foreign cultures. He writes articles on history and languages and recommends FSI Arabic courses to learn Arabic.

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