Classification and History of Arabic
– Arabic is classified as a Central Semitic language.
– Linguists differ on the best classification of Semitic language sub-groups.
– Innovations of Central Semitic languages are maintained in Arabic.
– Arabic vernaculars do not descend from Classical Arabic.
– Classical Arabic is a sister language rather than their direct ancestor.
– Arabia had a wide variety of Semitic languages in antiquity.
– Old Arabic, the precursor of Arabic, emerged around the 1st century CE.
– Epigraphic Ancient North Arabian (ANA) was considered distinct and mutually unintelligible from Arabic.
– Safaitic and Hismaic, previously considered ANA, should be considered Old Arabic.
– Continuous Arabic text in an ancestor of the modern Arabic script dates back to around 125 CE.
– Various Central Semitic languages were spoken in ancient Arabia.
– Modern South Arabian languages were spoken in southern Arabia.
– Dadanitic and Taymanitic were inscriptional languages in the northern Hejaz.
– Thamudic C was attested in Najd and parts of western Arabia.
– Hasaitic, derived from ASA script, was spoken in eastern Arabia.
Diglossia and Language Statistics
– Arabic has been characterized by diglossia since the 7th century.
– There is an opposition between a standard prestige language (Literary Arabic) and vernacular varieties.
– Colloquial dialects vary significantly from Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
– MSA is acquired through formal education and is not spoken natively.
– MSA is used in formal contexts, news bulletins, and for prayers.
– Arabic is the sixth most spoken language in the world.
– Combined, Arabic dialects have 362 million native speakers.
– MSA is spoken by 274 million L2 speakers.
– Arabic is an official language of 26 states and one disputed territory.
– Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations.
Old Hejazi, Classical Arabic, and Standardization
– Old Hejazi and Classical Arabic emerged in the Hejaz region.
– It continued to be used in Judeo-Christian texts.
– The orthography of the Quran shows an archaic form of Old Hejazi.
– A poetic koine developed based on Bedouin dialects of Najd.
– Arabic poets and writers in the early Islamic century spoke Arabic as their mother tongue.
– Abu al-Aswad al-Duali standardized Arabic grammar.
– Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi compiled the first Arabic dictionary.
– Al-Jahiz proposed an overhaul of Arabic grammar.
– The standardization of Arabic was completed in the 8th century.
– Sībawayhi’s Kitāb provided a comprehensive description of Arabic.
Spread and Development of Arabic
– Arabic spread with the spread of Islam.
– It gained vocabulary from Middle Persian and Turkish.
– Classical Greek terms entered Arabic through translations in Baghdad.
– Knowledge of Classical Arabic became essential for social advancement.
– Arabic was written in Hebrew script by Andalusi Jewish philosopher Maimonides.
– Ibn Jinni wrote extensively on Arabic morphology and phonology.
– Ibn Mada realized the overhaul of Arabic grammar proposed by Al-Jahiz.
– Ibn Manzur compiled a major reference dictionary of Arabic.
– Neo-Arabic dialects emerged from a contact situation following the conquests.
– Colloquial Arabic dialects arose from pidginized Arabic.
Nahda, Modern Standard Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic
– The Nahda was a 19th-century cultural and literary renaissance.
– Nahda writers sought to simplify Arabic language and script.
– Arabic presses dramatically changed the diffusion of Arabic literature.
– Rifaa al-Tahtawi proposed lexical injection in Arabic for industrial concepts.
– Arabic academies were established to develop standardized additions to the Arabic lexicon.
– Arabic refers to Standard Arabic, which includes Classical and Modern Standard Arabic.
– Regional vernacular Arabic dialects are not mutually intelligible.
– Classical Arabic is found in the Quran and follows prescriptive norms.
– Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic.
– Modern Standard Arabic has discarded some constructions and vocabulary not used in spoken varieties.
– Everyday spoken language.
– Many regional variants.
– Geographically distant variants are often mutually unintelligible.
– Closely related variants have a high degree of mutual intelligibility.
– Used in informal spoken media and some forms of written media.
– Hassaniya Arabic is official in Mali and recognized as a minority language in Morocco.
– Maltese is official in Malta and considered a variety of spoken Arabic.
– Cypriot Arabic is recognized as a minority language in Cyprus.
– Diglossia is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language.
– Educated Arabs speak both Standard Arabic and their native dialects.
– Code-switching between dialectal and standard varieties is common.
– Comprehension between Arabic dialects varies based on geographic proximity.
– Political reasons lead to the assertion that all Arabs speak a single language.
– Medieval scholars of the Arabic language considered all other languages inferior.
– In modern times, knowing English or French is seen as a sign of sophistication and modernity.
– Feigning weakness in Arabic is sometimes seen as a sign of status and class.
– Arabic is the language of the Quran and Islamic terms, leading millions of Muslims to study it.
– Code-switching practices are used to demonstrate education and social status.
– Arabic is taught in elementary and secondary schools worldwide, especially in Muslim schools.
– Universities offer Arabic classes as part of foreign language and Middle Eastern studies programs.
– Arabic language schools assist students in learning Arabic outside of academic settings.
– Software, books, and online classes are available for distance learning of Arabic.
– Many Muslims, both Arab and non-Arab, study Arabic due to its importance in Islamic texts.
– Arabic lexicography has a tradition that extended for about a millennium before the modern period.
– Early lexicographers sought to explain unfamiliar
This article needs attention from an expert in linguistics. The specific problem is: There seems to be some confusion surrounding the chronology of Arabic's origination, including notably in the paragraph on Qaryat Al-Faw (also discussed on talk). There are major sourcing gaps from "Literary Arabic" onwards.(August 2022)
Arabic (اَلْعَرَبِيَّة, al-ʿarabiyyah [alʕaraˈbijːah] ⓘ; عَرَبِيّ, ʿarabī [ˈʕarabiː] ⓘ or [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world. Having emerged in the first millennium BC, it is named after the Arab people; the term "Arab" was initially used to describe those living in the Arabian Peninsula, as perceived by geographers from ancient Greece.
|Arab world and surrounding regions
|Arabs and several other peoples of the Middle East and North Africa
|360 million native speakers of all varieties (2022)
270 million L2 users of Modern Standard Arabic (2022)
|Signed Arabic (different national forms)
Official language in
ara – inclusive code
arq – Algerian Arabic
xaa – Andalusi Arabic
abv – Bahrani Arabic
avl – Bedawi Arabic
shu – Chadian Arabic
acy – Cypriot Arabic
adf – Dhofari Arabic
arz – Egyptian Arabic
acm – Gelet Iraqi Arabic
afb – Gulf Arabic
ayh – Hadhrami Arabic
mey – Hassaniya Arabic
acw – Hejazi Arabic
apc – Levantine Arabic
ayl – Libyan Arabic
ary – Moroccan Arabic
ars – Najdi Arabic
acx – Omani Arabic
ayp – Qeltu Iraqi Arabic
aao – Saharan Arabic
aec – Saʽidi Arabic
ayn – Sanʽani Arabic
ssh – Shihhi Arabic
sqr – Siculo-Arabic
arb – Standard Arabic
apd – Sudanese Arabic
acq – Taʽizzi-Adeni Arabic
abh – Tajiki Arabic
aeb – Tunisian Arabic
auz – Uzbeki Arabic
Sole official language, Arabic-speaking majority
Sole official language, Arabic-speaking minority
Co-official language, Arabic-speaking majority
Co-official language, Arabic-speaking minority
Since the 7th century, Arabic has been characterized by diglossia, with an opposition between a standard prestige language—i.e., Literary Arabic: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or Classical Arabic—and diverse vernacular varieties, which serve as mother tongues. Colloquial dialects vary significantly from MSA, impeding mutual intelligibility. MSA is only acquired through formal education and is not spoken natively. It is the language of literature, official documents, and formal written media. In spoken form, MSA is used in formal contexts, news bulletins and for prayers. This variety is the lingua franca of the Arab world and the liturgical language of Islam. It is an official language of 26 states and one disputed territory, the third most after English and French. It is also one of six official languages of the United Nations.
Spoken varieties are the usual medium of communication in all other domains. They are not standardized and vary significantly, some of them being mutually unintelligible. The International Organization for Standardization assigns language codes to 33 varieties of Arabic, including MSA. Arabic vernaculars do not descend from MSA or Classical Arabic. Combined, Arabic dialects have 362 million native speakers, while MSA is spoken by 274 million L2 speakers, making it the sixth most spoken language in the world, and the most spoken that is neither Chinese nor Indo-European.
Arabic is traditionally written with the Arabic alphabet, a right-to-left abjad and the official script for MSA. Colloquial varieties were not traditionally written; however, the emergence of social media has seen a significant increase in dialects written online. Besides the Arabic alphabet, dialects are also often written in Latin script from left to right or in Hebrew characters (in Israel) with no standardized orthography. Hassaniya is the only variety officially written in a Latin alphabet (in Senegal).; Maltese also uses a Latin script, though it is widely classified as distinct from Arabic dialects.
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