A Brief History of Arabic
Arabic is part of the Central Semitic language family and is believed to have evolved 1600 years ago among the Bedouin nomadic tribes in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula (the word “Arab” means “nomad”).
Arabic is considered the language of the Quran (the holy book of Islam).
Where in the World Is Arabic spoken?
The language is widely spoken throughout the world and comprises 30 different varieties such as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), Egyptian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, Levantine Arabic, and several others. It is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is written from right to left, like Hebrew.
“The majority of Arabic speakers are concentrated in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, known as the Arab world. There are 25 countries that claim Arabic as an official or co-official language: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. And then there are 6 sovereign states in which Arabic is a national language or recognized minority language: Iran, Turkey, Niger, Senegal, Mali, and Cyprus.” (source: www.babbel.com)
How many Speakers of Arabic are there in the World?
Adding up all the varieties of today’s Arabic, there are estimated 310 million native speakers of Arabic speakers in the whole world, making it the 5th most spoken language globally after Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, and Hindi.
The Arabic language has directly been derived from Classical Arabic in the 7th – 9th century. Although, it is not a spoken tongue now but is still the language of religion throughout the Arab world. Much of its grammar and vocabulary is same as the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the literary standard across the Middle East, North Africa, and North East Africa and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. MSA was developed in the early 19th century and is used in most printed materials (books, newspapers, magazines, documents) of the Arab League. However, native speakers of Arabic language do not distinguish between “Modern Standard Arabic” and “Classical Arabic” as separate languages; they refer to both as al-ʻArabīyat ul-fuṣḥá (العربية الفصحى) meaning Standard Arabic or Literary Arabic.
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