An Introduction To Arabic Languages And Where They’re Spoken

Find out more about the different Arabic languages that exist, and where they’re actively used in the world. 

Arabic is one of the most sacred, oldest and historic languages in the world. It’s the fifth most spoken language on the planet, and around 313 million people speak it in total. 

The language is used in the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, and forms part of the Semitic language group, which also includes Hebrew and Amharic. Many Muslims know at least some Arabic so that they can read the Qur’an and understand prayers. 26 countries in Africa and Asia also call Arabic their official language, and all but 8 of those call it the first language of the country. 

There are also smaller languages used in Arab countries including Amazigh and Kurdish and they come in many varieties, but Arab remains the most commonly spoken. 

Unsurprisingly, there are various dialects of Arabic including:

Classical – This is the Arabic type used in the Qur’an and the original dialect of Saudi Arabia. It is the base language for all other types and is where the grammar and syntax of the language is rooted. Because it is so commonly used for religious studies only, it is seen as more of a written, than spoken language. 

Modern Standard Arabic – A more modern version of Classical Arabic used Internationally in conferences, in the media and in mosques. It is generally easier to read and understand, making it more accessible to the masses. 

Spoken Arabic (Colloquial Arabic) – A conversational version of Arabic that is used for communication between everyone and anyone when speaking on the phone or in person. This type of Arabic language is the type that varies hugely because of local dialects. There are many, and they vary a lot. They can vary so much so, in fact, that even though two people are speaking Arabic, if they are from different areas or countries, they may well not understand each other. 

For this reason, businesses looking to add subtitles or an Arabic voiceover to a corporate video aimed at a specific Arabic country, must ensure that local dialects are fully taken into consideration. 

Learning Arabic 

When it comes to learning Arabic, most children will grow up learning the local dialect of their family. Children in a religious household are also likely to begin to learn Classical Arabic from an early age so they can understand prayers and read and recite the Qur’an. 

As children grow into adulthood they may well then look to have a broader understanding of Islam and Classical Arabic. They may want to be able to read and understand our texts and history. 

Those who want to work in business, travel, translate, work in politics, research the language or work in otherwise educated roles will learn Modern Standard Arabic. It is a necessity when it comes to making progress in higher circles and esteemed careers. 

If a person needs or wants to communicate with those in a certain location then the local dialect has to be learnt. Of course this dialect is learnt on top of the dialect the person was raised understanding. 

For that reason, it’s likely that an educational facility will encourage Modern Standard Arabic to be learnt first, and then an additional dialect at the same time, or after. This gives a really good baseline education that is applicable in multiple mediums and countries, and enables an easier learning journey with not just one, but multiple Arabic dialects. 

Arabic languages are deeply historical, sacred and have a huge amount of differences depending on their application. If you are looking to subtitle a video, learn Arabic or otherwise utilise this language for business or domestic purposes, do seek professional advice from specialists such as matinee.co.uk. The chances are there is a path of learning or language use that will work best for your individual needs and circumstances. 

Source – Free Images – Atif Gulzar

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