Arabic Language History

The Language of Wonders

Arabic is ranked fifth in the world’s league table of languages with more than 200 million native speakers, most of who live in the Middle East and North Africa. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Arabic is the language of the Qur’an and is used throughout the Muslim world. It’s the official language of 22 countries and belongs to the Semitic language family.

Classical Arabic was originally the dialect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. Modern Standard Arabic is used in books, newspapers, on television and radio, in mosques, and in conversations between educated Arabs. It has 28 consonants and three vowels which can be short or long.

Arabic extends from four different colloquial dialects, including Levantine Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, and Gulf Arabic. Levantine Arabic is spoken in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. The Egyptian dialect is spoken in Egypt and is the most widely understood as Egypt is the major producer of movies and TV programs in the Arab World. Gulf Arabic is spoken in the region of the Arab Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, and Iraq. Maghrebi Arabic is spoken in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Unlike other languages, Arabic is written from right to left. In addition, Arabic has lent many words to many languages; for instance, Arabic has lent some words to English such as ‘algebra’, ‘banana’, ‘coffee’, ‘magazine’, ‘sugar’, and more. Arabic is spoken as Modern Standard Arabic, Classical Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic.

Arabic has very strong historical roots. Because it is the recognized spoken and written holy language of Muslims globally, The Arabic Language is popular and interests many different types of people. While there are several different dialects and styles in which Arabic is written and spoken, it is often referred to as a single language with a lexicon and grammatical rules of its own. Today, Arabic enjoys the status of a macrolanguage with 30 varieties, including modern standard Arabic.


Arabic Language Origin and Roots

Arabic is believed to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula. It is also classified as a Semitic language, and it is often associated with the Hejaz and Nejd regions. In fact, Arabic and Hebrew are known to be the only two Semitic languages that are still widely used, which is another reason why the language is given so much importance.

Arabic spread very easily across the globe due to the nomadic tendencies of the people who used to live in the region. While the language was already spreading relatively easily, interracial marriages between people of the Arabian Peninsula and the surrounding regions expedited the process considerably.

The Arab conquests of the 7th century C.E. contributed to the infiltration of Arabic in the Iberian, Chinese, and North African regions. This unconventional method of the proliferation of the language also gave birth to a number of dialects and styles of the Arabic language. In fact, Arabic has made its way into a number of other languages, including Urdu and Sicilian, which have around 500 Arabic words. Similarly, Arabic continues to grow and expand endlessly by borrowing words from other languages.

The spread of Islam and the Arab conquests in the Middle Eastern region also managed to make Arabic the language of choice of the people who were avid speakers of the various dialects of Aramaic. Arabic also managed to take hold of a majority of the Egyptian population where Coptic and Greek was previously the major communicative languages. While Arabic became popular relatively quickly in the North African region, those native populations did not completely accept Arabic as the dominant language. Therefore, North Africans still communicate in a number of different spoken tongues and tribal dialects.


Modern Arabic Language Diglossia

Modern Arabic is essentially a combination of modern standard Arabic and colloquial Arabic. While the standardized version of the language is used for reading and writing, this version of the language needs to be learned. Colloquial Arabic, on the other hand, is the native language of all Arabs and all the dialects of the colloquial version of the language are spoken only.


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