Arabic

Arabic (Arabic: العَرَبِيَّة‎) al-ʻarabiyyah [alʕaraˈbijːa] (listen) or (Arabic: عَرَبِيّ‎) ʻarabī [ˈʕarabiː] (listen) or Arabic pronunciation: [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Central Semitic language that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world.[5] It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic,[6] which is derived from Classical Arabic.

As the modern written language, Modern Standard Arabic is widely taught in schools and universities, and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government, and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic (fuṣḥā), which is the official language of 26 states, and the liturgical language of Islam. Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic, and uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties, and has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties. Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-classical era, especially in modern times. Due to its grounding in Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic is removed over a millennium from everyday speech, which is construed as a multitude of dialects of this language. These dialects and Modern Standard Arabic are described by some scholars as not mutually comprehensible. The former are usually acquired in families, while the latter is taught in formal education settings. However, there have been studies reporting some degree of comprehension of stories told in the standard variety among preschool-aged children.[7] The relation between Modern Standard Arabic and these dialects is sometimes compared to that of Latin and vernaculars (or today's French, Czech or German) in medieval and early modern Europe.[8] This view though does not take into account the widespread use of Modern Standard Arabic as a medium of audiovisual communication in today's mass media—a function Latin has never performed.

During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages, mainly Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, and Catalan, owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. Sicilian has about 500 Arabic words as result of Sicily being progressively conquered by Arabs from North Africa, from the mid-9th to mid-10th centuries. Many of these words relate to agriculture and related activities.[9] Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have also acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish.

Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Spanish, Urdu, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Maldivian, Indonesian, Pashto, Punjabi, Tagalog, Sindhi, and Hausa, and some languages in parts of Africa. Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Greek and Persian in medieval times, and contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.

Classical Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.8 billion Muslims, and Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations.[10][11][12][13] All varieties of Arabic combined are spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world,[14] making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right to left, although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left to right with no standardized orthography.

Arabic
العَرَبِيَّة
al-ʻarabiyyah
Arabic albayancalligraphy
al-ʿArabiyyah in written Arabic (Naskh script)
Pronunciation/ˈʕarabij/, /alʕaraˈbijːa/
Native toCountries of the Arab League, minorities in neighboring countries and some parts of Asia, Africa, Europe
Native speakers
310 million, all varieties (2011–2016)[1]
270 million L2 speakers of Standard (Modern) Arabic[1]
Early form
Standard forms
Dialects
Arabic alphabet
Arabic Braille
Syriac
Hebrew
Greek
Latin (incl. Arabic chat alphabet, Hassaniya (Senegal),[2] Moroccan, Lebanese)
Signed Arabic (national forms)
Official status
Official language in
Modern Standard Arabic is an official language of 26 states, the third most after English and French[3]
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1ar
ISO 639-2ara
ISO 639-3arainclusive code
Individual codes:
arq – Algerian Arabic
aao – Algerian Saharan Arabic
bbz – Babalia Creole Arabic
abv – Baharna Arabic
shu – Chadian Arabic
acy – Cypriot Arabic
adf – Dhofari Arabic
avl – Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic
arz – Egyptian Arabic
afb – Gulf Arabic
ayh – Hadrami Arabic
acw – Hijazi Arabic
ayl – Libyan Arabic
acm – Mesopotamian Arabic
ary – Moroccan Arabic
ars – Najdi Arabic
apc – North Levantine Arabic
ayp – North Mesopotamian Arabic
acx – Omani Arabic
aec – Saidi Arabic
ayn – Sanaani Arabic
ssh – Shihhi Arabic
ajp – South Levantine Arabic
arb – Standard Arabic
apd – Sudanese Arabic
pga – Sudanese Creole Arabic
acq – Taizzi-Adeni Arabic
abh – Tajiki Arabic
aeb – Tunisian Arabic
auz – Uzbeki Arabic
Glottologarab1395[4]
Linguasphere12-AAC
Dispersión lengua árabe
Dispersion of native Arabic speakers as the majority (dark green) or minority (light green) population
Arabic speaking world
Use of Arabic as the national language (green), as an official language (dark blue), and as a regional/minority language (light blue)

History

Classification

Arabic is a Central Semitic language, closely related to the Northwest Semitic languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Phoenician), the Ancient South Arabian languages, and various other Semitic languages of Arabia such as Dadanitic. The Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the establishment of the Central Semitic languages, particularly in grammar. Innovations of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include:

  1. The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation (jalas-) into a past tense.
  2. The conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation (yajlis-) into a present tense.
  3. The elimination of other prefix-conjugated mood/aspect forms (e.g., a present tense formed by doubling the middle root, a perfect formed by infixing a /t/ after the first root consonant, probably a jussive formed by a stress shift) in favor of new moods formed by endings attached to the prefix-conjugation forms (e.g., -u for indicative, -a for subjunctive, no ending for jussive, -an or -anna for energetic).
  4. The development of an internal passive.

There are several features which Classical Arabic, the modern Arabic varieties, as well as the Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions share which are unattested in any other Central Semitic language variety, including the Dadanitic and Taymanitic languages of the northern Hejaz. These features are evidence of common descent from a hypothetical ancestor, Proto-Arabic. The following features can be reconstructed with confidence for Proto-Arabic:[15]

  1. negative particles m *; lʾn *lā-ʾan > CAr lan
  2. mafʿūl G-passive participle
  3. prepositions and adverbs f, ʿn, ʿnd, ḥt, ʿkdy
  4. a subjunctive in -a
  5. t-demonstratives
  6. leveling of the -at allomorph of the feminine ending
  7. ʾn complementizer and subordinator
  8. the use of f- to introduce modal clauses
  9. independent object pronoun in (ʾ)y
  10. vestiges of nunation

Old Arabic

Arabian Languages
Arabian languages

Arabia boasted a wide variety of Semitic languages in antiquity. In the southwest, various Central Semitic languages both belonging to and outside of the Ancient South Arabian family (e.g. Southern Thamudic) were spoken. It is also believed that the ancestors of the Modern South Arabian languages (non-Central Semitic languages) were also spoken in southern Arabia at this time. To the north, in the oases of northern Hejaz, Dadanitic and Taymanitic held some prestige as inscriptional languages. In Najd and parts of western Arabia, a language known to scholars as Thamudic C is attested. In eastern Arabia, inscriptions in a script derived from ASA attest to a language known as Hasaitic. Finally, on the northwestern frontier of Arabia, various languages known to scholars as Thamudic B, Thamudic D, Safaitic, and Hismaic are attested. The last two share important isoglosses with later forms of Arabic, leading scholars to theorize that Safaitic and Hismaic are in fact early forms of Arabic and that they should be considered Old Arabic.[16]

Beginning in the 1st century CE, fragments of Northern Old Arabic are attested in the Nabataean script across northern Arabia. By the 4th century CE, the Nabataean Aramaic writing system had come to express varieties of Arabic other than that of the Nabataeans.

Old Hejazi and Classical Arabic

In late pre-Islamic times, a transdialectal and transcommunal variety of Arabic emerged in the Hejaz which continued living its parallel life after literary Arabic had been institutionally standardized in the 2nd and 3rd century of the Hijra, most strongly in Judeo-Christian texts, keeping alive ancient features eliminated from the "learned" tradition (Classical Arabic).[17] This variety and both its classicizing and "lay" iterations have been termed Middle Arabic in the past, but they are thought to continue an Old Higazi register. It is clear that the orthography of the Qur'an was not developed for the standardized form of Classical Arabic; rather, it shows the attempt on the part of writers to record an archaic form of Old Higazi.

In the late 6th century AD, a relatively uniform intertribal "poetic koine" distinct from the spoken vernaculars developed based on the Bedouin dialects of Najd, probably in connection with the court of al-Ḥīra. During the first Islamic century, the majority of Arabic poets and Arabic-writing persons spoke Arabic as their mother tongue. Their texts, although mainly preserved in far later manuscripts, contain traces of non-standardized Classical Arabic elements in morphology and syntax. The standardization of Classical Arabic reached completion around the end of the 8th century. The first comprehensive description of the ʿarabiyya "Arabic", Sībawayhi's al-Kitāb, is based first of all upon a corpus of poetic texts, in addition to Qur'an usage and Bedouin informants whom he considered to be reliable speakers of the ʿarabiyya.[18] By the 8th century, knowledge of Classical Arabic had become an essential prerequisite for rising into the higher classes throughout the Islamic world.

Neo-Arabic

Charles Ferguson's koine theory (Ferguson 1959) claims that the modern Arabic dialects collectively descend from a single military koine that sprang up during the Islamic conquests; this view has been challenged in recent times. Ahmad al-Jallad proposes that there were at least two considerably distinct types of Arabic on the eve of the conquests: Northern and Central (Al-Jallad 2009). The modern dialects emerged from a new contact situation produced following the conquests. Instead of the emergence of a single or multiple koines, the dialects contain several sedimentary layers of borrowed and areal features, which they absorbed at different points in their linguistic histories.[18] According to Veersteegh and Bickerton, colloquial Arabic dialects arose from pidginized Arabic formed from contact between Arabs and conquered peoples. Pidginization and subsequent creolization among Arabs and arabized peoples could explain relative morphological and phonological simplicity of vernacular Arabic compared to Classical and MSA.[19][20]

Arabic Swadesh list (1-100).

Classical, Modern Standard and spoken Arabic

Flag of the Arab League
Flag of the Arab League, used in some cases for the Arabic language
Flag of Hejaz 1917
Flag used in some cases for the Arabic language (Flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz 1916–1925)

Arabic usually designates one of three main variants: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial or dialectal Arabic. Classical Arabic is the language found in the Quran, used from the period of Pre-Islamic Arabia to that of the Abbasid Caliphate. Theoretically, Classical Arabic is considered normative, according to the syntactic and grammatical norms laid down by classical grammarians (such as Sibawayh) and the vocabulary defined in classical dictionaries (such as the Lisān al-ʻArab). In practice, however, modern authors almost never write in pure Classical Arabic, instead using a literary language with its own grammatical norms and vocabulary, commonly known as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

MSA is the variety used in most current, printed Arabic publications, spoken by some of the Arabic media across North Africa and the Middle East, and understood by most educated Arabic speakers. "Literary Arabic" and "Standard Arabic" (فُصْحَىfuṣḥá) are less strictly defined terms that may refer to Modern Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic.

Some of the differences between Classical Arabic (CA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) are as follows:

  • Certain grammatical constructions of CA that have no counterpart in any modern dialect (e.g., the energetic mood) are almost never used in Modern Standard Arabic.
  • No modern spoken variety of Arabic has case distinctions. As a result, MSA is generally composed without case distinctions in mind, and the proper cases are added after the fact, when necessary. Because most case endings are noted using final short vowels, which are normally left unwritten in the Arabic script, it is unnecessary to determine the proper case of most words. The practical result of this is that MSA, like English and Standard Chinese, is written in a strongly determined word order and alternative orders that were used in CA for emphasis are rare. In addition, because of the lack of case marking in the spoken varieties, most speakers cannot consistently use the correct endings in extemporaneous speech. As a result, spoken MSA tends to drop or regularize the endings except when reading from a prepared text.
  • The numeral system in CA is complex and heavily tied in with the case system. This system is never used in MSA, even in the most formal of circumstances; instead, a significantly simplified system is used, approximating the system of the conservative spoken varieties.

MSA uses much Classical vocabulary (e.g., dhahaba 'to go') that is not present in the spoken varieties, but deletes Classical words that sound obsolete in MSA. In addition, MSA has borrowed or coined a large number of terms for concepts that did not exist in Quranic times, and MSA continues to evolve.[21] Some words have been borrowed from other languages—notice that transliteration mainly indicates spelling and not real pronunciation (e.g., فِلْمfilm 'film' or ديمقراطيةdīmuqrāṭiyyah 'democracy').

However, the current preference is to avoid direct borrowings, preferring to either use loan translations (e.g., فرعfarʻ 'branch', also used for the branch of a company or organization; جناحjanāḥ 'wing', is also used for the wing of an airplane, building, air force, etc.), or to coin new words using forms within existing roots (استماتةistimātah 'apoptosis', using the root موتm/w/t 'death' put into the Xth form, or جامعةjāmiʻah 'university', based on جمعjamaʻa 'to gather, unite'; جمهوريةjumhūriyyah 'republic', based on جمهورjumhūr 'multitude'). An earlier tendency was to redefine an older word although this has fallen into disuse (e.g., هاتفhātif 'telephone' < 'invisible caller (in Sufism)'; جريدةjarīdah 'newspaper' < 'palm-leaf stalk').

Colloquial or dialectal Arabic refers to the many national or regional varieties which constitute the everyday spoken language and evolved from Classical Arabic. Colloquial Arabic has many regional variants; geographically distant varieties usually differ enough to be mutually unintelligible, and some linguists consider them distinct languages.[22] The varieties are typically unwritten. They are often used in informal spoken media, such as soap operas and talk shows,[23] as well as occasionally in certain forms of written media such as poetry and printed advertising.

The only variety of modern Arabic to have acquired official language status is Maltese, which is spoken in (predominantly Catholic) Malta and written with the Latin script. It is descended from Classical Arabic through Siculo-Arabic, but is not mutually intelligible with any other variety of Arabic. Most linguists list it as a separate language rather than as a dialect of Arabic.

Even during Muhammad's lifetime, there were dialects of spoken Arabic. Muhammad spoke in the dialect of Mecca, in the western Arabian peninsula, and it was in this dialect that the Quran was written down. However, the dialects of the eastern Arabian peninsula were considered the most prestigious at the time, so the language of the Quran was ultimately converted to follow the eastern phonology. It is this phonology that underlies the modern pronunciation of Classical Arabic. The phonological differences between these two dialects account for some of the complexities of Arabic writing, most notably the writing of the glottal stop or hamzah (which was preserved in the eastern dialects but lost in western speech) and the use of alif maqṣūrah (representing a sound preserved in the western dialects but merged with ā in eastern speech).

Language and dialect

The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia, which is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language, usually in different social situations. In the case of Arabic, educated Arabs of any nationality can be assumed to speak both their school-taught Standard Arabic as well as their native, mutually unintelligible "dialects";[24][25][26][27][28] these dialects linguistically constitute separate languages which may have dialects of their own.[29] When educated Arabs of different dialects engage in conversation (for example, a Moroccan speaking with a Lebanese), many speakers code-switch back and forth between the dialectal and standard varieties of the language, sometimes even within the same sentence. Arabic speakers often improve their familiarity with other dialects via music or film.

The issue of whether Arabic is one language or many languages is politically charged, in the same way it is for the varieties of Chinese, Hindi and Urdu, Serbian and Croatian, Scots and English, etc. In contrast to speakers of Hindi and Urdu who claim they cannot understand each other even when they can, speakers of the varieties of Arabic will claim they can all understand each other even when they cannot.[30] The issue of diglossia between spoken and written language is a significant complicating factor: A single written form, significantly different from any of the spoken varieties learned natively, unites a number of sometimes divergent spoken forms. For political reasons, Arabs mostly assert that they all speak a single language, despite significant issues of mutual incomprehensibility among differing spoken versions.[31]

From a linguistic standpoint, it is often said that the various spoken varieties of Arabic differ among each other collectively about as much as the Romance languages.[32] This is an apt comparison in a number of ways. The period of divergence from a single spoken form is similar—perhaps 1500 years for Arabic, 2000 years for the Romance languages. Also, while it is comprehensible to people from the Maghreb, a linguistically innovative variety such as Moroccan Arabic is essentially incomprehensible to Arabs from the Mashriq, much as French is incomprehensible to Spanish or Italian speakers but relatively easily learned by them. This suggests that the spoken varieties may linguistically be considered separate languages.

Influence of Arabic on other languages

The influence of Arabic has been most important in Islamic countries, because it is the language of the Islamic sacred book, the Quran. Arabic is also an important source of vocabulary for languages such as Amharic, Baluchi, Bengali, Berber, Bosnian, Chaldean, Chechen, Croatian, Dagestani, English, German, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Kazakh, Kurdish, Kutchi, Kyrgyz, Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romance languages (French, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Spanish, etc.) Saraiki, Sindhi, Somali, Sylheti, Swahili, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek, Visayan and Wolof, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken. France has recently been emphasizing the learning and usage of Arabic in their classroom(s)/school(s).[33]

In addition, English has many Arabic loanwords, some directly, but most via other Mediterranean languages. Examples of such words include admiral, adobe, alchemy, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, alkaline, almanac, amber, arsenal, assassin, candy, carat, cipher, coffee, cotton, ghoul, hazard, jar, kismet, lemon, loofah, magazine, mattress, sherbet, sofa, sumac, tariff, and zenith.[34] Other languages such as Maltese[35] and Kinubi derive ultimately from Arabic, rather than merely borrowing vocabulary or grammatical rules.

Terms borrowed range from religious terminology (like Berber taẓallit, "prayer", from salat (صلاةṣalāh)), academic terms (like Uyghur mentiq, "logic"), and economic items (like English coffee) to placeholders (like Spanish fulano, "so-and-so"), everyday terms (like Hindustani lekin, "but", or Spanish taza and French tasse, meaning "cup"), and expressions (like Catalan a betzef, "galore, in quantity"). Most Berber varieties (such as Kabyle), along with Swahili, borrow some numbers from Arabic. Most Islamic religious terms are direct borrowings from Arabic, such as صلاة‎ (salat), "prayer", and إمام‎ (imam), "prayer leader."

In languages not directly in contact with the Arab world, Arabic loanwords are often transferred indirectly via other languages rather than being transferred directly from Arabic. For example, most Arabic loanwords in Hindustani and Turkish entered through Persian though Persian is an Indo-Iranian language. Older Arabic loanwords in Hausa were borrowed from Kanuri.

Arabic words also made their way into several West African languages as Islam spread across the Sahara. Variants of Arabic words such as كتابkitāb ("book") have spread to the languages of African groups who had no direct contact with Arab traders.[36]

Since throughout the Islamic world, Arabic occupied a position similar to that of Latin in Europe, many of the Arabic concepts in the fields of science, philosophy, commerce, etc. were coined from Arabic roots by non-native Arabic speakers, notably by Aramaic and Persian translators, and then found their way into other languages. This process of using Arabic roots, especially in Kurdish and Persian, to translate foreign concepts continued through to the 18th and 19th centuries, when swaths of Arab-inhabited lands were under Ottoman rule.

Influence of other languages on Arabic

The most important sources of borrowings into (pre-Islamic) Arabic are from the related (Semitic) languages Aramaic,[37] which used to be the principal, international language of communication throughout the ancient Near and Middle East, Ethiopic, and to a lesser degree Hebrew (mainly religious concepts). In addition, many cultural, religious and political terms have entered Arabic from Iranian languages, notably Middle Persian, Parthian, and (Classical) Persian,[38] and Hellenistic Greek (kīmiyāʼ has as origin the Greek khymia, meaning in that language the melting of metals; see Roger Dachez, Histoire de la Médecine de l'Antiquité au XXe siècle, Tallandier, 2008, p. 251), alembic (distiller) from ambix (cup), almanac (climate) from almenichiakon (calendar). (For the origin of the last three borrowed words, see Alfred-Louis de Prémare, Foundations of Islam, Seuil, L'Univers Historique, 2002.) Some Arabic borrowings from Semitic or Persian languages are, as presented in De Prémare's above-cited book:

  • madīnah/medina (مدينة, city or city square), a word of Aramaic or Hebrew origin מדינה (in which it means "a state");
  • jazīrah (جزيرة), as in the well-known form الجزيرة "Al-Jazeera," means "island" and has its origin in the Syriac ܓܙܝܪܗ gazīra.
  • lāzaward (لازورد) is taken from Persian لاژورد lājvard, the name of a blue stone, lapis lazuli. This word was borrowed in several European languages to mean (light) blue – azure in English, azur in French and azul in Portuguese and Spanish.

Arabic alphabet and nationalism

There have been many instances of national movements to convert Arabic script into Latin script or to Romanize the language. Currently, the only language derived from Classical Arabic to use Latin script is Maltese.

Lebanon

The Beirut newspaper La Syrie pushed for the change from Arabic script to Latin letters in 1922. The major head of this movement was Louis Massignon, a French Orientalist, who brought his concern before the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus in 1928. Massignon's attempt at Romanization failed as the Academy and population viewed the proposal as an attempt from the Western world to take over their country. Sa'id Afghani, a member of the Academy, mentioned that the movement to Romanize the script was a Zionist plan to dominate Lebanon.[39][40]

Egypt

After the period of colonialism in Egypt, Egyptians were looking for a way to reclaim and re-emphasize Egyptian culture. As a result, some Egyptians pushed for an Egyptianization of the Arabic language in which the formal Arabic and the colloquial Arabic would be combined into one language and the Latin alphabet would be used.[39][40] There was also the idea of finding a way to use Hieroglyphics instead of the Latin alphabet, but this was seen as too complicated to use.[39][40] A scholar, Salama Musa agreed with the idea of applying a Latin alphabet to Arabic, as he believed that would allow Egypt to have a closer relationship with the West. He also believed that Latin script was key to the success of Egypt as it would allow for more advances in science and technology. This change in alphabet, he believed, would solve the problems inherent with Arabic, such as a lack of written vowels and difficulties writing foreign words that made it difficult for non-native speakers to learn.[39][40] Ahmad Lutfi As Sayid and Muhammad Azmi, two Egyptian intellectuals, agreed with Musa and supported the push for Romanization.[39][41] The idea that Romanization was necessary for modernization and growth in Egypt continued with Abd Al-Aziz Fahmi in 1944. He was the chairman for the Writing and Grammar Committee for the Arabic Language Academy of Cairo.[39][41] However, this effort failed as the Egyptian people felt a strong cultural tie to the Arabic alphabet.[39][41] In particular, the older Egyptian generations believed that the Arabic alphabet had strong connections to Arab values and history, due to the long history of the Arabic alphabet (Shrivtiel, 189) in Muslim societies.

The language of the Quran and its influence on poetry

The Quran introduced a new way of writing to the world. People began studying and applying the unique styles they learned from the Quran to not only their own writing, but also their culture. Writers studied the unique structure and format of the Quran in order to identify and apply the figurative devices and their impact on the reader.

Quran's figurative devices

The Quran inspired musicality in poetry through the internal rhythm of the verses. The arrangement of words, how certain sounds create harmony, and the agreement of rhymes create the sense of rhythm within each verse. At times, the chapters of the Quran only have the rhythm in common.[42]

The repetition in the Quran introduced the true power and impact repetition can have in poetry. The repetition of certain words and phrases made them appear more firm and explicit in the Quran. The Quran uses constant metaphors of blindness and deafness to imply unbelief. Metaphors were not a new concept to poetry, however the strength of extended metaphors was. The explicit imagery in the Quran inspired many poets to include and focus on the feature in their own work. The poet ibn al Mu'tazz wrote a book regarding the figures of speech inspired by his study of the Quran. Poets such as badr Shakir al sayyab expresses his political opinion in his work through imagery inspired by the forms of more harsher imagery used in the Quran.[43] The Quran uses figurative devices in order to express the meaning in the most beautiful form possible. The study of the pauses in the Quran as well as other rhetoric allow it to be approached in a multiple ways.[44]

Structure

Although the Quran is known for its fluency and harmony, the structure can be best described as chaotic. The suras also known as chapters of the Quran are not placed in chronological order. The only constant in their structure is that the longest are placed first and shorter ones follow. The topics discussed in the chapter often have no relation to each other and only share their sense of rhyme. The Quran introduces to poetry the idea of abandoning order and scattering narratives throughout the text. Harmony is also present in the sound of the Quran. The elongations and accents present in the Quran create a harmonious flow within the writing. Unique sound of the Quran recited, due to the accents, create a deeper level of understanding through a deeper emotional connection.[43]

The Quran is written in a language that is simple and understandable by people. The simplicity of the writing inspired later poets to write in a more clear and clear-cut style.[43] The words of the Quran, although unchanged, are to this day understandable and frequently used in both formal and informal Arabic. The simplicity of the language makes memorizing and reciting the Quran a slightly easier task.

Culture and the Quran

The writer al-Khattabi explains how culture is a required element to create a sense of art in work as well as understand it. He believes that fluency and harmony the Quran possess are not the only elements that make it beautiful and create a bond between the reader and the text. While a lot of poetry was deemed comparable to the Quran in that it is equal to or better than the composition of the Quran, a debate rose that such statements are not possible because humans are incapable of composing work comparable to the Quran.[44] Because the structure of the Quran made it difficult for a clear timeline to be seen, Hadith were the main source of chronological order. The Hadith were passed down from generation to generation and this tradition became a large resource for understanding the context. Poetry after the Quran began possessing this element of tradition by including ambiguity and background information to be required to understand the meaning.[42]

After the Quran came down to the people, the tradition of memorizing the verses became present. It is believed that the greater the amount of the Quran memorized, the greater the faith. As technology improved over time, hearing recitations of Quran became more available as well as more tools to help memorize the verses. The tradition of Love Poetry served as a symbolic representation of a Muslim's desire for a closer contact with their Lord.

While the influence of the Quran on Arabic poetry is explained and defended by numerous writers, some writers such as Al- Baqillani believe that poetry and the Quran are in no conceivable way related due to the uniqueness of the Quran. Poetry's imperfections prove his points that they cannot be compared with the fluency the Quran holds.

Arabic and Islam

Classical Arabic is the language of poetry and literature (including news); it is also mainly the language of the Quran. Classical Arabic is closely associated with the religion of Islam because the Quran was written in it. Most of the world's Muslims do not speak Classical Arabic as their native language, but many can read the Quranic script and recite the Quran. Among non-Arab Muslims, translations of the Quran are most often accompanied by the original text. At present, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is also used in modernized versions of literary forms of the Quran.

Some Muslims present a monogenesis of languages and claim that the Arabic language was the language revealed by God for the benefit of mankind and the original language as a prototype system of symbolic communication, based upon its system of triconsonantal roots, spoken by man from which all other languages were derived, having first been corrupted.[45][46] Judaism has a similar account with the Tower of Babel.

Dialects and descendants

Arabic Dialects
Different dialects of Arabic

Colloquial Arabic is a collective term for the spoken dialects of Arabic used throughout the Arab world, which differ radically from the literary language. The main dialectal division is between the varieties within and outside of the Arabian peninsula, followed by that between sedentary varieties and the much more conservative Bedouin varieties. All of the varieties outside of the Arabian peninsula (which include the large majority of speakers) have a large number of features in common with each other that are not found in Classical Arabic. This has led researchers to postulate the existence of a prestige koine dialect in the one or two centuries immediately following the Arab conquest, whose features eventually spread to all of the newly conquered areas. (These features are present to varying degrees inside the Arabian peninsula. Generally, the Arabian peninsula varieties have much more diversity than the non-peninsula varieties, but have been understudied.)

Within the non-peninsula varieties, the largest difference is between the non-Egyptian North African dialects (especially Moroccan Arabic) and the others. Moroccan Arabic in particular is hardly comprehensible to Arabic speakers east of Libya (although the converse is not true, in part due to the popularity of Egyptian films and other media).

One factor in the differentiation of the dialects is influence from the languages previously spoken in the areas, which have typically provided a significant number of new words and have sometimes also influenced pronunciation or word order; however, a much more significant factor for most dialects is, as among Romance languages, retention (or change of meaning) of different classical forms. Thus Iraqi aku, Levantine fīh and North African kayən all mean 'there is', and all come from Classical Arabic forms (yakūn, fīhi, kā'in respectively), but now sound very different.

Examples

Transcription is a broad IPA transcription, so minor differences were ignored for easier comparison. Also, the pronunciation of Modern Standard Arabic differs significantly from region to region.

Variety I love reading a lot When I went to the library I didn't find this old book I wanted to read a book about the history of women in France
Literary Arabic in Arabic script
(common spelling)
أحب القراءة كثيرا
عندما ذهبت إلى المكتبة
لم أجد هذا الكتاب القديم
كنت أريد أن أقرأ كتابا عن تاريخ المرأة في فرنسا
Literary Arabic in Arabic script
(with all vowels)
أُحِبُّ ٱلْقِرَاءَةَ كَثِيرًا
عِنْدَمَا ذَهَبْتُ إِلَى ٱلْمَكْتَبَةِ
لَمْ أَجِد هٰذَا ٱلْكِتَابَ ٱلْقَدِيمَ
كُنْتُ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَقْرَأَ كِتَابًا عَنْ تَارِيخِ ٱلْمَرْأَةِ فِي فَرَنْسَا
Classical Arabic
(liturgical or poetic only)
ʔuħibːu‿lqirˤaːʔata kaθiːrˤaː ʕĩndamaː ðahabᵊtu ʔila‿lmaktabah lam ʔaɟidᵊ haːða‿lkitaːba‿lqadiːm kũntu ʔuriːdu ʔan ʔaqᵊrˤaʔa kitaːban ʕan taːriːχi‿lmarˤʔati fiː farˤãnsaː
Modern Standard Arabic ʔuħibːu‿lqiraːʔa kaθiːran ʕindamaː ðahabt ʔila‿lmaktaba lam ʔad͡ʒid haːða‿lkitaːba‿lqadiːm kunt ʔuriːd ʔan ʔaqraʔ kitaːban ʕan taːriːχi‿lmarʔa fiː faransaː
Yemeni Arabic (Sanaa) ana bajn aħibː ilgiraːji(h) gawi law ma sirt saˈla‿lmaktabih ma lige:tʃ ðajji‿lkitaːb ilgadiːm kunt aʃti ʔagra kitaːb ʕan taːriːx ilmari(h) wastˤ faraːnsa
Jordanian Arabic (Irbid ) ana baħib ligraːje kθiːr lamːa ruħt ʕalmatʃtabe ma lageːtʃ halitʃtaːb ilgadiːm kaːn bidːi ʔaqra tʃtaːb ʕan taːriːx ilmara fi faransa
Gulf Arabic (Kuwait) aːna waːjid aħibː aɡra lamːan riħt ilmaktaba maː liɡeːt halkitaːb ilgadiːm kint abi‿(j)aɡra kitaːb ʕan taːriːx ilħariːm‿(i)bfaransa
Gələt Mesopotamian (Baghdad) aːni‿(j)aħub luqraːja kulːiʃ lamːan riħit lilmaktabˤɛː maː liɡeːt haːða liktaːb ilgadiːm ridit aqra ktaːb ʕan taːriːx inːiswaːn‿(u)bfransɛː
Hejazi Arabic (Medina) ana marːa ʔaħubː alɡiraːja lamːa ruħt almaktaba ma liɡiːt haːda lkitaːb alɡadiːm kunt abɣa ʔaɡra kitaːb ʕan taːriːx alħariːm fi faransa
Western Syrian Arabic (Damascus) ana ktiːr bħəb ləʔraːje lamːa rəħt ʕalmaktabe ma laʔeːt haləktaːb əlʔadiːm kaːn badːi ʔra ktaːb ʕan taːriːx əlmara bfraːnsa
Lebanese Arabic (Beirut?) ana ktiːr bħib liʔreːji lamːa riħit ʕalmaktabi ma lʔeːt halikteːb liʔdiːm keːn badːi ʔra kteːb ʕan teːriːx ilmara bfraːnsa
Urban Palestinian (Jerusalem) ana baħib liʔraːje ktiːr lamːa ruħt ʕalmaktabe ma laʔeːtʃ haliktaːb ilʔadiːm kaːn bidːi ʔaʔra ktaːb ʕan taːriːx ilmara fi faransa
Rural Palestinian (West Bank) ana baħib likraːje kθiːr lamːa ruħt ʕalmatʃtabe ma lakeːtʃ halitʃtaːb ilkadiːm kaːn bidːi ʔakra tʃtaːb ʕan taːriːx ilmara fi faransa
Egyptian (metropolitan) ana baħebː elʔeraːja ʔawi lamːa roħt elmakˈtaba malʔetʃ elketaːb elʔadim da ana kont(e)‿ʕawz‿aʔra ktab ʕan tariːx esːetˈtat fe faransa
Libyan Arabic (Tripoli?) ana nħəb il-ɡraːja halba lamma mʃeːt lil-maktba malɡeːtiʃ ha-li-ktaːb lə-ɡdiːm kunt nibi naɡra ktaːb ʔleː tariːx ə-nsawiːn fi fraːnsa
Tunisian (Tunis) nħib liqraːja barʃa waqtilli mʃiːt lilmaktba mal-qiːtʃ ha-likteːb liqdiːm kʊnt nħib naqra kteːb ʕla terix limra fi fraːnsa
Algerian (Algiers?) āna nħəbb nəqṛa bezzaf ki ruħt l-əl-măktaba ma-lqīt-ʃ hād lə-ktāb lə-qdīm kŭnt ħābb nəqṛa ktāb ʕla tārīx lə-mṛa fi fṛānsa
Moroccan (Rabat?) ana ʕziz ʕlija bzzaf nqra melli mʃit l-lmaktaba ma-lqiːt-ʃ had l-ktab l-qdim kent baɣi nqra ktab ʕla tarix l-mra f-fransa
Maltese (Valletta)
(in Maltese orthography)
Inħobb naqra ħafna. Meta mort il-librerija Ma sibtx dan il-ktieb qadim. Ridt naqra ktieb dwar l-istorja tal-mara fi Franza.

Koiné

According to Charles A. Ferguson,[47] the following are some of the characteristic features of the koiné that underlies all of the modern dialects outside the Arabian peninsula. Although many other features are common to most or all of these varieties, Ferguson believes that these features in particular are unlikely to have evolved independently more than once or twice and together suggest the existence of the koine:

  • Loss of the dual number except on nouns, with consistent plural agreement (cf. feminine singular agreement in plural inanimates).
  • Change of a to i in many affixes (e.g., non-past-tense prefixes ti- yi- ni-; wi- 'and'; il- 'the'; feminine -it in the construct state).
  • Loss of third-weak verbs ending in w (which merge with verbs ending in y).
  • Reformation of geminate verbs, e.g., ḥalaltu 'I untied' → ḥalēt(u).
  • Conversion of separate words 'to me', laka 'to you', etc. into indirect-object clitic suffixes.
  • Certain changes in the cardinal number system, e.g., khamsat ayyām 'five days' → kham(a)s tiyyām, where certain words have a special plural with prefixed t.
  • Loss of the feminine elative (comparative).
  • Adjective plurals of the form kibār 'big' → kubār.
  • Change of nisba suffix -iyy > i.
  • Certain lexical items, e.g., jāb 'bring' < jāʼa bi- 'come with'; shāf 'see'; ēsh 'what' (or similar) < ayyu shayʼ 'which thing'; illi (relative pronoun).
  • Merger of /ɮˤ/ and /ðˤ/.

Dialect groups

Phonology

History

Of the 29 Proto-Semitic consonants, only one has been lost: */ʒ/, which merged with /ʃ/.[58] But the consonant */ʒ/ is still found in many colloquial Arabic dialects. Various other consonants have changed their sound too, but have remained distinct. An original */p/ lenited to /f/, and */ɡ/ – consistently attested in pre-Islamic Greek transcription of Arabic languages[59] – became palatalized to /ɡʲ/ or /ɟ/ by the time of the Quran and /d͡ʒ/, /ɡ/, /ʒ/ or /ɟ/ after early Muslim conquests and in MSA (see Arabic phonology#Local variations for more detail).[60] An original voiceless alveolar lateral fricative */ɬ/ became /ʃ/.[61] Its emphatic counterpart /ɬˠ~ɮˤ/ was considered by Arabs to be the most unusual sound in Arabic (Hence the Classical Arabic's appellation لُغَةُ ٱلضَّادِlughat al-ḍād or "language of the ḍād"); for most modern dialects, it has become an emphatic stop /dˤ/ with loss of the laterality[61] or with complete loss of any pharyngealization or velarization, /d/. (The classical ḍād pronunciation of pharyngealization /ɮˤ/ still occurs in the Mehri language and the similar sound without velarization, /ɮ/, exists in other Modern South Arabian languages.)

Other changes may also have happened. Classical Arabic pronunciation is not thoroughly recorded and different reconstructions of the sound system of Proto-Semitic propose different phonetic values. One example is the emphatic consonants, which are pharyngealized in modern pronunciations but may have been velarized in the eighth century and glottalized in Proto-Semitic.[61]

Reduction of /j/ and /w/ between vowels occurs in a number of circumstances and is responsible for much of the complexity of third-weak ("defective") verbs. Early Akkadian transcriptions of Arabic names shows that this reduction had not yet occurred as of the early part of the 1st millennium BC.

The Classical Arabic language as recorded was a poetic koine that reflected a consciously archaizing dialect, chosen based on the tribes of the western part of the Arabian Peninsula, who spoke the most conservative variants of Arabic. Even at the time of Muhammed and before, other dialects existed with many more changes, including the loss of most glottal stops, the loss of case endings, the reduction of the diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ into monophthongs /eː, oː/, etc. Most of these changes are present in most or all modern varieties of Arabic.

An interesting feature of the writing system of the Quran (and hence of Classical Arabic) is that it contains certain features of Muhammad's native dialect of Mecca, corrected through diacritics into the forms of standard Classical Arabic. Among these features visible under the corrections are the loss of the glottal stop and a differing development of the reduction of certain final sequences containing /j/: Evidently, final /-awa/ became /aː/ as in the Classical language, but final /-aja/ became a different sound, possibly /eː/ (rather than again /aː/ in the Classical language). This is the apparent source of the alif maqṣūrah 'restricted alif' where a final /-aja/ is reconstructed: a letter that would normally indicate /j/ or some similar high-vowel sound, but is taken in this context to be a logical variant of alif and represent the sound /aː/.

Although Classical Arabic was a unitary language and is now used in Quran, its pronunciation varies somewhat from country to country and from region to region within a country. It is influenced by colloquial dialects.

Literary Arabic

The "colloquial" spoken dialects of Arabic are learned at home and constitute the native languages of Arabic speakers. "Formal" Literary Arabic (usually specifically Modern Standard Arabic) is learned at school; although many speakers have a native-like command of the language, it is technically not the native language of any speakers. Both varieties can be both written and spoken, although the colloquial varieties are rarely written down and the formal variety is spoken mostly in formal circumstances, e.g., in radio and TV broadcasts, formal lectures, parliamentary discussions and to some extent between speakers of different colloquial dialects. Even when the literary language is spoken, however, it is normally only spoken in its pure form when reading a prepared text out loud and communication between speakers of different colloquial dialects. When speaking extemporaneously (i.e. making up the language on the spot, as in a normal discussion among people), speakers tend to deviate somewhat from the strict literary language in the direction of the colloquial varieties. In fact, there is a continuous range of "in-between" spoken varieties: from nearly pure Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), to a form that still uses MSA grammar and vocabulary but with significant colloquial influence, to a form of the colloquial language that imports a number of words and grammatical constructions in MSA, to a form that is close to pure colloquial but with the "rough edges" (the most noticeably "vulgar" or non-Classical aspects) smoothed out, to pure colloquial. The particular variant (or register) used depends on the social class and education level of the speakers involved and the level of formality of the speech situation. Often it will vary within a single encounter, e.g., moving from nearly pure MSA to a more mixed language in the process of a radio interview, as the interviewee becomes more comfortable with the interviewer. This type of variation is characteristic of the diglossia that exists throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

Although Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is a unitary language, its pronunciation varies somewhat from country to country and from region to region within a country. The variation in individual "accents" of MSA speakers tends to mirror corresponding variations in the colloquial speech of the speakers in question, but with the distinguishing characteristics moderated somewhat. Note that it is important in descriptions of "Arabic" phonology to distinguish between pronunciation of a given colloquial (spoken) dialect and the pronunciation of MSA by these same speakers. Although they are related, they are not the same. For example, the phoneme that derives from Classical Arabic /ɟ/ has many different pronunciations in the modern spoken varieties, e.g., [d͡ʒ ~ ʒ ~ j ~ ɡʲ ~ ɡ] including the proposed original [ɟ]. Speakers whose native variety has either [d͡ʒ] or [ʒ] will use the same pronunciation when speaking MSA. Even speakers from Cairo, whose native Egyptian Arabic has [ɡ], normally use [ɡ] when speaking MSA. The [j] of Persian Gulf speakers is the only variant pronunciation which isn't found in MSA; [d͡ʒ~ʒ] is used instead, but may use [j] in MSA for comfortable pronunciation. Another reason of different pronunciations is influence of colloquial dialects. The differentiation of pronunciation of colloquial dialects is the influence from other languages previously spoken and some still presently spoken in the regions, such as Coptic in Egypt, Berber, Punic or Phoenician in North Africa, Himyaritic, Modern South Arabian and Old South Arabian in Yemen and Oman, Aramaic and Canaanite languages (including Phoenician) in the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Another example: Many colloquial varieties are known for a type of vowel harmony in which the presence of an "emphatic consonant" triggers backed allophones of nearby vowels (especially of the low vowels /aː/, which are backed to [ɑ(ː)] in these circumstances and very often fronted to [æ(ː)] in all other circumstances). In many spoken varieties, the backed or "emphatic" vowel allophones spread a fair distance in both directions from the triggering consonant; in some varieties (most notably Egyptian Arabic), the "emphatic" allophones spread throughout the entire word, usually including prefixes and suffixes, even at a distance of several syllables from the triggering consonant. Speakers of colloquial varieties with this vowel harmony tend to introduce it into their MSA pronunciation as well, but usually with a lesser degree of spreading than in the colloquial varieties. (For example, speakers of colloquial varieties with extremely long-distance harmony may allow a moderate, but not extreme, amount of spreading of the harmonic allophones in their MSA speech, while speakers of colloquial varieties with moderate-distance harmony may only harmonize immediately adjacent vowels in MSA.)

Vowels

Modern Standard Arabic has six pure vowels (while most modern dialects have eight pure vowels which includes the long vowels /eː oː/), with short /a i u/ and corresponding long vowels /aː iː uː/. There are also two diphthongs: /aj/ and /aw/.

The pronunciation of the vowels differs from speaker to speaker, in a way that tends to reflect the pronunciation of the corresponding colloquial variety. Nonetheless, there are some common trends. Most noticeable is the differing pronunciation of /a/ and /aː/, which tend towards fronted [æ(ː)], [a(ː)] or [ɛ(ː)] in most situations, but a back [ɑ(ː)] in the neighborhood of emphatic consonants. Some accents and dialects, such as those of the Hejaz region, have an open [a(ː)] or a central [ä(ː)] in all situations. The vowel /a/ varies towards [ə(ː)] too. Listen to the final vowel in the recording of al-ʻarabiyyah at the beginning of this article, for example. The point is, Arabic has only three short vowel phonemes, so those phonemes can have a very wide range of allophones. The vowels /u/ and /ɪ/ are often affected somewhat in emphatic neighborhoods as well, with generally more back or centralized allophones, but the differences are less great than for the low vowels. The pronunciation of short /u/ and /i/ tends towards [ʊ~o] and [i~e~ɨ], respectively, in many dialects.

The definition of both "emphatic" and "neighborhood" vary in ways that reflect (to some extent) corresponding variations in the spoken dialects. Generally, the consonants triggering "emphatic" allophones are the pharyngealized consonants /tˤ dˤ sˤ ðˤ/; /q/; and /r/, if not followed immediately by /i(ː)/. Frequently, the velar fricatives /x ɣ/ also trigger emphatic allophones; occasionally also the pharyngeal consonants /ʕ ħ/ (the former more than the latter). Many dialects have multiple emphatic allophones of each vowel, depending on the particular nearby consonants. In most MSA accents, emphatic coloring of vowels is limited to vowels immediately adjacent to a triggering consonant, although in some it spreads a bit farther: e.g., وقتwaqt [wɑqt] 'time'; وطنwaṭan [wɑtˤɑn] 'homeland'; وسط المدينةwasṭ al-madīnah [wæstˤɑl-mædiːnɐ] 'downtown' (sometimes [wɑstˤɑl-mædiːnæ] or similar).

In a non-emphatic environment, the vowel /a/ in the diphthong /aj/ tends to be fronted even more than elsewhere, often pronounced [æj] or [ɛj]: hence سيفsayf [sajf ~ sæjf ~ sɛjf] 'sword' but صيفṣayf [sˤɑjf] 'summer'. However, in accents with no emphatic allophones of /a/ (e.g., in the Hejaz), the pronunciation [aj] or [äj] occurs in all situations.

Consonants

Consonant phonemes of Modern Standard Arabic
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless t k q ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ~ χ ħ
voiced ð z ðˤ ɣ ~ ʁ ʕ ɦ
Trill r
Approximant l (ɫ) j w

The phoneme /d͡ʒ/ is represented by the Arabic letter jīm (ج‎) and has many standard pronunciations. [d͡ʒ] is characteristic of north Algeria, Iraq, also in most of the Arabian peninsula but with an allophonic [ʒ] in some positions; [ʒ] occurs in most of the Levant and most North Africa; and [ɡ] is used in most of Egypt and some regions in Yemen and Oman. Generally this corresponds with the pronunciation in the colloquial dialects.[62] In some regions in Sudan and Yemen, as well as in some Sudanese and Yemeni dialects, it may be either [ɡʲ] or [ɟ], representing the original pronunciation of Classical Arabic. Foreign words containing /ɡ/ may be transcribed with ج‎, غ‎, ك‎, ق‎, گ‎, ݣ or ڨ, mainly depending on the regional spoken variety of Arabic or the commonly diacriticized Arabic letter. Note also that in northern Egypt, where the Arabic letter jīm (ج‎) is normally pronounced [ɡ], a separate phoneme /ʒ/, which may be transcribed with چ‎, occurs in a small number of mostly non-Arabic loanwords, e.g., /ʒakitta/ 'jacket'.

/θ/ (ث‎) can be pronounced as [t] or even [s]. In some places of Maghreb it can be also pronounced as [t͡s].

/x/ and /ɣ/ (خ,‎ غ‎) are velar, post-velar, or uvular.[63]

In many varieties, /ħ, ʕ/ (ح,‎ ع‎) are actually epiglottal [ʜ, ʢ] (despite what is reported in many earlier works).

/l/ is pronounced as velarized [ɫ] in الله /ʔallaːh/, the name of God, q.e. Allah, when the word follows a, ā, u or ū (after i or ī it is unvelarized: بسم اللهbismi l–lāh /bismillaːh/). Some speakers velarize other occurrences of /l/ in MSA, in imitation of their spoken dialects.

The emphatic consonant /dˤ/ was actually pronounced [ɮˤ], or possibly [d͡ɮˤ][64]—either way, a highly unusual sound. The medieval Arabs actually termed their language lughat al-ḍād 'the language of the Ḍād' (the name of the letter used for this sound), since they thought the sound was unique to their language. (In fact, it also exists in a few other minority Semitic languages, e.g., Mehri.)

Arabic has consonants traditionally termed "emphatic" /tˤ, dˤ, sˤ, ðˤ/ (ط,‎ ض,‎ ص,‎ ظ‎), which exhibit simultaneous pharyngealization [tˤ, dˤ, sˤ, ðˤ] as well as varying degrees of velarization [tˠ, dˠ, sˠ, ðˠ], so they may be written with the "Velarized or pharyngealized" diacritic ( ̴) as: /t̴, d̴, s̴, ð̴/. This simultaneous articulation is described as "Retracted Tongue Root" by phonologists.[65] In some transcription systems, emphasis is shown by capitalizing the letter, for example, /dˤ/ is written ⟨D⟩; in others the letter is underlined or has a dot below it, for example, ⟨⟩.

Vowels and consonants can be phonologically short or long. Long (geminate) consonants are normally written doubled in Latin transcription (i.e. bb, dd, etc.), reflecting the presence of the Arabic diacritic mark shaddah, which indicates doubled consonants. In actual pronunciation, doubled consonants are held twice as long as short consonants. This consonant lengthening is phonemically contrastive: قبلqabila 'he accepted' vs. قبّلqabbala 'he kissed'.

Proto
Semitic
IPA Arabic
written standard Classical
[66]
Old
Arabic
[67]
*b [b] ب b /b/
*d [d] د d /d/
*g [ɡ] ج ǧ /d͡ʒ~ɟ~ɡ/ /ɟ/ /g/
*p [p] ف f /f/ /pʰ/
*t [t] ت t /t/ /tʰ/
*k [k] ك k /k/ /kʰ/
*ṭ [] ط /tˤ/ *ṭ
*q [] ق q /q/ /qˤ/ *ḳ
*ḏ [ð] / [d͡ð] ذ /ð/
*z [z] / [d͡z] ز z /z/
*s [s] / [t͡s] س s /s/
[ʃ] / [t͡ʃ]
*ṯ [θ] / [t͡θ] ث /θ/
[ɬ] / [t͡ɬ] ش š /ʃ/ /ɕ/ /ɬ/
*ṱ [θʼ] / [t͡θʼ] ظ /ðˤ/ *ṱ
*ṣ [] / [t͡sʼ] ص /sˤ/ *ṣ
*ṣ́ [ɬʼ] / [t͡ɬʼ] ض /dˤ/ /ɮˤ/ *ṣ́
[ɣ]~[ʁ] غ ġ /ɣ~ʁ/ /ʁˤ/ /ɣ/
[ʕ] ع ʻ /ʕ/
[ʔ] ء ʼ /ʔ/
*ḫ [x]~[χ] خ /x~χ/ /χˤ/ /x/
*ḥ [ħ] ح /ħ/
*h [h] ه h /h/
*m [m] م m /m/
*n [n] ن n /n/
*r [ɾ] ر r /r/
*l [l] ل l /l/
*y [j] ي y /j/
*w [w] و w /w/
Proto
Semitic
IPA Arabic Standard Classical Old

Syllable structure

Arabic has two kinds of syllables: open syllables (CV) and (CVV)—and closed syllables (CVC), (CVVC) and (CVCC). The syllable types with two morae (units of time), i.e. CVC and CVV, are termed heavy syllables, while those with three morae, i.e. CVVC and CVCC, are superheavy syllables. Superheavy syllables in Classical Arabic occur in only two places: at the end of the sentence (due to pausal pronunciation) and in words such as حارّḥārr 'hot', مادّةmāddah 'stuff, substance', تحاجواtaḥājjū 'they disputed with each other', where a long ā occurs before two identical consonants (a former short vowel between the consonants has been lost). (In less formal pronunciations of Modern Standard Arabic, superheavy syllables are common at the end of words or before clitic suffixes such as -nā 'us, our', due to the deletion of final short vowels.)

In surface pronunciation, every vowel must be preceded by a consonant (which may include the glottal stop [ʔ]). There are no cases of hiatus within a word (where two vowels occur next to each other, without an intervening consonant). Some words do have an underlying vowel at the beginning, such as the definite article al- or words such as اشتراishtarā 'he bought', اجتماعijtimāʻ 'meeting'. When actually pronounced, one of three things happens:

  • If the word occurs after another word ending in a consonant, there is a smooth transition from final consonant to initial vowel, e.g., اجتماعal-ijtimāʻ 'meeting' /alid͡ʒtimaːʕ/.
  • If the word occurs after another word ending in a vowel, the initial vowel of the word is elided, e.g., بيت المديرbaytu (a)l-mudīr 'house of the director' /bajtulmudiːr/.
  • If the word occurs at the beginning of an utterance, a glottal stop [ʔ] is added onto the beginning, e.g., البيت هوal-baytu huwa ... 'The house is ...' /ʔalbajtuhuwa ... /.

Stress

Word stress is not phonemically contrastive in Standard Arabic. It bears a strong relationship to vowel length. The basic rules for Modern Standard Arabic are:

  • A final vowel, long or short, may not be stressed.
  • Only one of the last three syllables may be stressed.
  • Given this restriction, the last heavy syllable (containing a long vowel or ending in a consonant) is stressed, if it is not the final syllable.
  • If the final syllable is super heavy and closed (of the form CVVC or CVCC) it receives stress.
  • If no syllable is heavy or super heavy, the first possible syllable (i.e. third from end) is stressed.
  • As a special exception, in Form VII and VIII verb forms stress may not be on the first syllable, despite the above rules: Hence inkatab(a) 'he subscribed' (whether or not the final short vowel is pronounced), yankatib(u) 'he subscribes' (whether or not the final short vowel is pronounced), yankatib 'he should subscribe (juss.)'. Likewise Form VIII ishta 'he bought', yashta 'he buys'.

Examples:kib(un) 'book', -ti-b(un) 'writer', mak-ta-b(un) 'desk', ma--ti-b(u) 'desks', mak-ta-ba-tun 'library' (but mak-ta-ba(-tun) 'library' in short pronunciation), ka-ta-bū (Modern Standard Arabic) 'they wrote' = ka-ta-bu (dialect), ka-ta--h(u) (Modern Standard Arabic) 'they wrote it' = ka-ta- (dialect), ka-ta-ba-tā (Modern Standard Arabic) 'they (dual, fem) wrote', ka-tab-tu (Modern Standard Arabic) 'I wrote' = ka-tabt (short form or dialect). Doubled consonants count as two consonants: ma-jal-la-(tan) 'magazine', ma-ḥall(-un) "place".

These rules may result in differently stressed syllables when final case endings are pronounced, vs. the normal situation where they are not pronounced, as in the above example of mak-ta-ba-tun 'library' in full pronunciation, but mak-ta-ba(-tun) 'library' in short pronunciation.

The restriction on final long vowels does not apply to the spoken dialects, where original final long vowels have been shortened and secondary final long vowels have arisen from loss of original final -hu/hi.

Some dialects have different stress rules. In the Cairo (Egyptian Arabic) dialect a heavy syllable may not carry stress more than two syllables from the end of a word, hence mad-ra-sah 'school', qā-hi-rah 'Cairo'. This also affects the way that Modern Standard Arabic is pronounced in Egypt. In the Arabic of Sanaa, stress is often retracted: bay-tayn 'two houses', -sat-hum 'their table', ma--tīb 'desks', -rat-ḥīn 'sometimes', mad-ra-sat-hum 'their school'. (In this dialect, only syllables with long vowels or diphthongs are considered heavy; in a two-syllable word, the final syllable can be stressed only if the preceding syllable is light; and in longer words, the final syllable cannot be stressed.)

Levels of pronunciation

The final short vowels (e.g., the case endings -a -i -u and mood endings -u -a) are often not pronounced in this language, despite forming part of the formal paradigm of nouns and verbs. The following levels of pronunciation exist:

This is the most formal level actually used in speech. All endings are pronounced as written, except at the end of an utterance, where the following changes occur:

  • Final short vowels are not pronounced. (But possibly an exception is made for feminine plural -na and shortened vowels in the jussive/imperative of defective verbs, e.g., irmi! 'throw!'".)
  • The entire indefinite noun endings -in and -un (with nunation) are left off. The ending -an is left off of nouns preceded by a tāʾ marbūṭah ة (i.e. the -t in the ending -at- that typically marks feminine nouns), but pronounced as in other nouns (hence its writing in this fashion in the Arabic script).
  • The tāʼ marbūṭah itself (typically of feminine nouns) is pronounced as h. (At least, this is the case in extremely formal pronunciation, e.g., some Quranic recitations. In practice, this h is usually omitted.)

This is a formal level of pronunciation sometimes seen. It is somewhat like pronouncing all words as if they were in pausal position (with influence from the colloquial varieties). The following changes occur:

  • Most final short vowels are not pronounced. However, the following short vowels are pronounced:
    • feminine plural -na
    • shortened vowels in the jussive/imperative of defective verbs, e.g., irmi! 'throw!'
    • second-person singular feminine past-tense -ti and likewise anti 'you (fem. sg.)'
    • sometimes, first-person singular past-tense -tu
    • sometimes, second-person masculine past-tense -ta and likewise anta 'you (masc. sg.)'
    • final -a in certain short words, e.g., laysa 'is not', sawfa (future-tense marker)
  • The nunation endings -an -in -un are not pronounced. However, they are pronounced in adverbial accusative formations, e.g., taqrīban تَقْرِيبًا 'almost, approximately', ʻādatan عَادَةً 'usually'.
  • The tāʾ marbūṭah ending ة is unpronounced, except in construct state nouns, where it sounds as t (and in adverbial accusative constructions, e.g., ʻādatan عَادَةً 'usually', where the entire -tan is pronounced).
  • The masculine singular nisbah ending -iyy is actually pronounced and is unstressed (but plural and feminine singular forms, i.e. when followed by a suffix, still sound as -iyy-).
  • Full endings (including case endings) occur when a clitic object or possessive suffix is added (e.g., -nā 'us/our').

This is the pronunciation used by speakers of Modern Standard Arabic in extemporaneous speech, i.e. when producing new sentences rather than simply reading a prepared text. It is similar to formal short pronunciation except that the rules for dropping final vowels apply even when a clitic suffix is added. Basically, short-vowel case and mood endings are never pronounced and certain other changes occur that echo the corresponding colloquial pronunciations. Specifically:

  • All the rules for formal short pronunciation apply, except as follows.
  • The past tense singular endings written formally as -tu -ta -ti are pronounced -t -t -ti. But masculine ʾanta is pronounced in full.
  • Unlike in formal short pronunciation, the rules for dropping or modifying final endings are also applied when a clitic object or possessive suffix is added (e.g., -nā 'us/our'). If this produces a sequence of three consonants, then one of the following happens, depending on the speaker's native colloquial variety:
    • A short vowel (e.g., -i- or -ǝ-) is consistently added, either between the second and third or the first and second consonants.
    • Or, a short vowel is added only if an otherwise unpronounceable sequence occurs, typically due to a violation of the sonority hierarchy (e.g., -rtn- is pronounced as a three-consonant cluster, but -trn- needs to be broken up).
    • Or, a short vowel is never added, but consonants like r l m n occurring between two other consonants will be pronounced as a syllabic consonant (as in the English words "butter bottle bottom button").
    • When a doubled consonant occurs before another consonant (or finally), it is often shortened to a single consonant rather than a vowel added. (But note that Moroccan Arabic never shortens doubled consonants or inserts short vowels to break up clusters, instead tolerating arbitrary-length series of arbitrary consonants and hence Moroccan Arabic speakers are likely to follow the same rules in their pronunciation of Modern Standard Arabic.)
  • The clitic suffixes themselves tend also to be changed, in a way that avoids many possible occurrences of three-consonant clusters. In particular, -ka -ki -hu generally sound as -ak -ik -uh.
  • Final long vowels are often shortened, merging with any short vowels that remain.
  • Depending on the level of formality, the speaker's education level, etc., various grammatical changes may occur in ways that echo the colloquial variants:
    • Any remaining case endings (e.g. masculine plural nominative -ūn vs. oblique -īn) will be leveled, with the oblique form used everywhere. (However, in words like ab 'father' and akh 'brother' with special long-vowel case endings in the construct state, the nominative is used everywhere, hence abū 'father of', akhū 'brother of'.)
    • Feminine plural endings in verbs and clitic suffixes will often drop out, with the masculine plural endings used instead. If the speaker's native variety has feminine plural endings, they may be preserved, but will often be modified in the direction of the forms used in the speaker's native variety, e.g. -an instead of -na.
    • Dual endings will often drop out except on nouns and then used only for emphasis (similar to their use in the colloquial varieties); elsewhere, the plural endings are used (or feminine singular, if appropriate).

Colloquial varieties

Vowels

Vowel phonemes of Modern Standard Arabic
Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close /i/ /u/ /iː/ /uː/
Open /a/ /aː/
Diphthongs /aw/, /aj/
most common vowel system among Arabic dialects
Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close /i/ /u/ /iː/ /uː/
Mid /eː/ /oː/
Open /a/ /aː/
Diphthongs /aw/, /aj/

As mentioned above, many spoken dialects have a process of emphasis spreading, where the "emphasis" (pharyngealization) of emphatic consonants spreads forward and back through adjacent syllables, pharyngealizing all nearby consonants and triggering the back allophone [ɑ(ː)] in all nearby low vowels. The extent of emphasis spreading varies. For example, in Moroccan Arabic, it spreads as far as the first full vowel (i.e. sound derived from a long vowel or diphthong) on either side; in many Levantine dialects, it spreads indefinitely, but is blocked by any /j/ or /ʃ/; while in Egyptian Arabic, it usually spreads throughout the entire word, including prefixes and suffixes. In Moroccan Arabic, /i u/ also have emphatic allophones [e~ɛ] and [o~ɔ], respectively.

Unstressed short vowels, especially /i u/, are deleted in many contexts. Many sporadic examples of short vowel change have occurred (especially /a//i/ and interchange /i//u/). Most Levantine dialects merge short /i u/ into /ə/ in most contexts (all except directly before a single final consonant). In Moroccan Arabic, on the other hand, short /u/ triggers labialization of nearby consonants (especially velar consonants and uvular consonants), and then short /a i u/ all merge into /ə/, which is deleted in many contexts. (The labialization plus /ə/ is sometimes interpreted as an underlying phoneme /ŭ/.) This essentially causes the wholesale loss of the short-long vowel distinction, with the original long vowels /aː iː uː/ remaining as half-long [aˑ iˑ uˑ], phonemically /a i u/, which are used to represent both short and long vowels in borrowings from Literary Arabic.

Most spoken dialects have monophthongized original /aj aw/ to /eː oː/ in most circumstances, including adjacent to emphatic consonants, while keeping them as the original diphthongs in others e.g. مَوْعِد/mawʕid/. In most of the Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian (except Sahil and Southeastern) Arabic dialects, they have subsequently merged into original /iː uː/.

Consonants

In some dialects, there may be more or fewer phonemes than those listed in the chart above. For example, non-Arabic [v] is used in the Maghrebi dialects as well in the written language mostly for foreign names. Semitic [p] became [f] extremely early on in Arabic before it was written down; a few modern Arabic dialects, such as Iraqi (influenced by Persian and Kurdish) distinguish between [p] and [b]. The Iraqi Arabic also uses sounds [ɡ], [t͡ʃ] and uses Persian adding letters, e.g.: گوجة gawjaha plum; چمة chimaha truffle and so on.

Early in the expansion of Arabic, the separate emphatic phonemes [ɮˤ] and [ðˤ] coalesced into a single phoneme [ðˤ]. Many dialects (such as Egyptian, Levantine, and much of the Maghreb) subsequently lost interdental fricatives, converting [θ ð ðˤ] into [t d dˤ]. Most dialects borrow "learned" words from the Standard language using the same pronunciation as for inherited words, but some dialects without interdental fricatives (particularly in Egypt and the Levant) render original [θ ð ðˤ dˤ] in borrowed words as [s z zˤ dˤ].

Another key distinguishing mark of Arabic dialects is how they render the original velar and uvular plosives /q/, /d͡ʒ/ (Proto-Semitic /ɡ/), and /k/:

  • ق/q/ retains its original pronunciation in widely scattered regions such as Yemen, Morocco, and urban areas of the Maghreb. It is pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] in several prestige dialects, such as those spoken in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus. But it is rendered as a voiced velar plosive [ɡ] in Persian Gulf, Upper Egypt, parts of the Maghreb, and less urban parts of the Levant (e.g. Jordan). In Iraqi Arabic it sometimes retains its original pronunciation and is sometimes rendered as a voiced velar plosive, depending on the word. Some traditionally Christian villages in rural areas of the Levant render the sound as [k], as do Shiʻi Bahrainis. In some Gulf dialects, it is palatalized to [d͡ʒ] or [ʒ]. It is pronounced as a voiced uvular constrictive [ʁ] in Sudanese Arabic. Many dialects with a modified pronunciation for /q/ maintain the [q] pronunciation in certain words (often with religious or educational overtones) borrowed from the Classical language.
  • ج/d͡ʒ/ is pronounced as an affricate in Iraq and much of the Arabian Peninsula, but is pronounced [ɡ] in most of North Egypt and parts of Yemen and Oman, [ʒ] in Morocco, Tunisia and the Levant, and [j], [i̠] in most words in much of the Persian Gulf.
  • ك/k/ usually retains its original pronunciation, but is palatalized to /t͡ʃ/ in many words in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and countries in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Often a distinction is made between the suffixes /-ak/ ('you', masc.) and /-ik/ ('you', fem.), which become /-ak/ and /-it͡ʃ/, respectively. In Sana'a, Omani, and Bahrani /-ik/ is pronounced /-iʃ/.

Pharyngealization of the emphatic consonants tends to weaken in many of the spoken varieties, and to spread from emphatic consonants to nearby sounds. In addition, the "emphatic" allophone [ɑ] automatically triggers pharyngealization of adjacent sounds in many dialects. As a result, it may difficult or impossible to determine whether a given coronal consonant is phonemically emphatic or not, especially in dialects with long-distance emphasis spreading. (A notable exception is the sounds /t/ vs. // in Moroccan Arabic, because the former is pronounced as an affricate [t͡s] but the latter is not.)

Grammar

Fa33aalah EN.pdf
Examples of how the Arabic root and form system works

Literary Arabic

As in other Semitic languages, Arabic has a complex and unusual morphology (i.e. method of constructing words from a basic root). Arabic has a nonconcatenative "root-and-pattern" morphology: A root consists of a set of bare consonants (usually three), which are fitted into a discontinuous pattern to form words. For example, the word for 'I wrote' is constructed by combining the root k-t-b 'write' with the pattern -a-a-tu 'I Xed' to form katabtu 'I wrote'. Other verbs meaning 'I Xed' will typically have the same pattern but with different consonants, e.g. qaraʼtu 'I read', akaltu 'I ate', dhahabtu 'I went', although other patterns are possible (e.g. sharibtu 'I drank', qultu 'I said', takallamtu 'I spoke', where the subpattern used to signal the past tense may change but the suffix -tu is always used).

From a single root k-t-b, numerous words can be formed by applying different patterns:

  • katabtu 'I wrote'
  • kattabtu 'I had (something) written'
  • kātabtu 'I corresponded (with someone)'
  • aktabtu 'I dictated'
  • iktatabtu 'I subscribed'
  • takātabnā 'we corresponded with each other'
  • aktubu 'I write'
  • ukattibu 'I have (something) written'
  • ukātibu 'I correspond (with someone)'
  • uktibu 'I dictate'
  • aktatibu 'I subscribe'
  • natakātabu 'we correspond each other'
  • kotiba 'it was written'
  • uktiba 'it was dictated'
  • maktoub 'written'
  • muktab 'dictated'
  • kitāb 'book'
  • kotub 'books'
  • kātib 'writer'
  • kuttāb 'writers'
  • maktab 'desk, office'
  • maktabah 'library, bookshop'
  • etc.

Nouns and adjectives

Nouns in Literary Arabic have three grammatical cases (nominative, accusative, and genitive [also used when the noun is governed by a preposition]); three numbers (singular, dual and plural); two genders (masculine and feminine); and three "states" (indefinite, definite, and construct). The cases of singular nouns (other than those that end in long ā) are indicated by suffixed short vowels (/-u/ for nominative, /-a/ for accusative, /-i/ for genitive).

The feminine singular is often marked by /-at/, which is reduced to /-ah/ or /-a/ before a pause. Plural is indicated either through endings (the sound plural) or internal modification (the broken plural). Definite nouns include all proper nouns, all nouns in "construct state" and all nouns which are prefixed by the definite article /al-/. Indefinite singular nouns (other than those that end in long ā) add a final /-n/ to the case-marking vowels, giving /-un/, /-an/ or /-in/ (which is also referred to as nunation or tanwīn).

Adjectives in Literary Arabic are marked for case, number, gender and state, as for nouns. However, the plural of all non-human nouns is always combined with a singular feminine adjective, which takes the /-ah/ or /-at/ suffix.

Pronouns in Literary Arabic are marked for person, number and gender. There are two varieties, independent pronouns and enclitics. Enclitic pronouns are attached to the end of a verb, noun or preposition and indicate verbal and prepositional objects or possession of nouns. The first-person singular pronoun has a different enclitic form used for verbs (/-ni/) and for nouns or prepositions (/-ī/ after consonants, /-ya/ after vowels).

Nouns, verbs, pronouns and adjectives agree with each other in all respects. However, non-human plural nouns are grammatically considered to be feminine singular. Furthermore, a verb in a verb-initial sentence is marked as singular regardless of its semantic number when the subject of the verb is explicitly mentioned as a noun. Numerals between three and ten show "chiasmic" agreement, in that grammatically masculine numerals have feminine marking and vice versa.

Verbs

Verbs in Literary Arabic are marked for person (first, second, or third), gender, and number. They are conjugated in two major paradigms (past and non-past); two voices (active and passive); and six moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, jussive, shorter energetic and longer energetic), the fifth and sixth moods, the energetics, exist only in Classical Arabic but not in MSA.[68] There are also two participles (active and passive) and a verbal noun, but no infinitive.

The past and non-past paradigms are sometimes also termed perfective and imperfective, indicating the fact that they actually represent a combination of tense and aspect. The moods other than the indicative occur only in the non-past, and the future tense is signaled by prefixing sa- or sawfa onto the non-past. The past and non-past differ in the form of the stem (e.g., past katab- vs. non-past -ktub-), and also use completely different sets of affixes for indicating person, number and gender: In the past, the person, number and gender are fused into a single suffixal morpheme, while in the non-past, a combination of prefixes (primarily encoding person) and suffixes (primarily encoding gender and number) are used. The passive voice uses the same person/number/gender affixes but changes the vowels of the stem.

The following shows a paradigm of a regular Arabic verb, kataba 'to write'. Note that in Modern Standard, the energetic mood (in either long or short form, which have the same meaning) is almost never used.

Derivation

Like other Semitic languages, and unlike most other languages, Arabic makes much more use of nonconcatenative morphology (applying a large number of templates applied roots) to derive words than adding prefixes or suffixes to words.

For verbs, a given root can occur in many different derived verb stems (of which there are about fifteen), each with one or more characteristic meanings and each with its own templates for the past and non-past stems, active and passive participles, and verbal noun. These are referred to by Western scholars as "Form I", "Form II", and so on through "Form XV" (although Forms XI to XV are rare). These stems encode grammatical functions such as the causative, intensive and reflexive. Stems sharing the same root consonants represent separate verbs, albeit often semantically related, and each is the basis for its own conjugational paradigm. As a result, these derived stems are part of the system of derivational morphology, not part of the inflectional system.

Examples of the different verbs formed from the root k-t-b 'write' (using ḥ-m-r 'red' for Form IX, which is limited to colors and physical defects):

Most of these forms are exclusively Classical Arabic
Form Past Meaning Non-past Meaning
I kataba 'he wrote' yaktubu 'he writes'
II kattaba 'he made (someone) write' yukattibu "he makes (someone) write"
III kātaba 'he corresponded with, wrote to (someone)' yukātibu 'he corresponds with, writes to (someone)'
IV ʾaktaba 'he dictated' yuktibu 'he dictates'
V takattaba 'nonexistent' yatakattabu 'nonexistent'
VI takātaba 'he corresponded (with someone, esp. mutually)' yatakātabu 'he corresponds (with someone, esp. mutually)'
VII inkataba 'he subscribed' yankatibu 'he subscribes'
VIII iktataba 'he copied' yaktatibu 'he copies'
IX iḥmarra 'he turned red' yaḥmarru 'he turns red'
X istaktaba 'he asked (someone) to write' yastaktibu 'he asks (someone) to write'

Form II is sometimes used to create transitive denominative verbs (verbs built from nouns); Form V is the equivalent used for intransitive denominatives.

The associated participles and verbal nouns of a verb are the primary means of forming new lexical nouns in Arabic. This is similar to the process by which, for example, the English gerund "meeting" (similar to a verbal noun) has turned into a noun referring to a particular type of social, often work-related event where people gather together to have a "discussion" (another lexicalized verbal noun). Another fairly common means of forming nouns is through one of a limited number of patterns that can be applied directly to roots, such as the "nouns of location" in ma- (e.g. maktab 'desk, office' < k-t-b 'write', maṭbakh 'kitchen' < ṭ-b-kh 'cook').

The only three genuine suffixes are as follows:

  • The feminine suffix -ah; variously derives terms for women from related terms for men, or more generally terms along the same lines as the corresponding masculine, e.g. maktabah 'library' (also a writing-related place, but different from maktab, as above).
  • The nisbah suffix -iyy-. This suffix is extremely productive, and forms adjectives meaning "related to X". It corresponds to English adjectives in -ic, -al, -an, -y, -ist, etc.
  • The feminine nisbah suffix -iyyah. This is formed by adding the feminine suffix -ah onto nisba adjectives to form abstract nouns. For example, from the basic root sh-r-k 'share' can be derived the Form VIII verb ishtaraka 'to cooperate, participate', and in turn its verbal noun ishtirāk 'cooperation, participation' can be formed. This in turn can be made into a nisbah adjective ishtirākī 'socialist', from which an abstract noun ishtirākiyyah 'socialism' can be derived. Other recent formations are jumhūriyyah 'republic' (lit. "public-ness", < jumhūr 'multitude, general public'), and the Gaddafi-specific variation jamāhīriyyah 'people's republic' (lit. "masses-ness", < jamāhīr 'the masses', pl. of jumhūr, as above).

Colloquial varieties

The spoken dialects have lost the case distinctions and make only limited use of the dual (it occurs only on nouns and its use is no longer required in all circumstances). They have lost the mood distinctions other than imperative, but many have since gained new moods through the use of prefixes (most often /bi-/ for indicative vs. unmarked subjunctive). They have also mostly lost the indefinite "nunation" and the internal passive.

The following is an example of a regular verb paradigm in Egyptian Arabic.

Example of a regular Form I verb in Egyptian Arabic, kátab/yíktib "write"
Tense/Mood Past Present Subjunctive Present Indicative Future Imperative
Singular
1st katáb-t á-ktib bá-ktib ḥá-ktib "
2nd masculine katáb-t tí-ktib bi-tí-ktib ḥa-tí-ktib í-ktib
feminine katáb-ti ti-ktíb-i bi-ti-ktíb-i ḥa-ti-ktíb-i i-ktíb-i
3rd masculine kátab yí-ktib bi-yí-ktib ḥa-yí-ktib "
feminine kátab-it tí-ktib bi-tí-ktib ḥa-tí-ktib
Plural
1st katáb-na ní-ktib bi-ní-ktib ḥá-ní-ktib "
2nd katáb-tu ti-ktíb-u bi-ti-ktíb-u ḥa-ti-ktíb-u i-ktíb-u
3rd kátab-u yi-ktíb-u bi-yi-ktíb-u ḥa-yi-ktíb-u "

Writing system

Menulis khat
Islamic calligraphy written by a Malay Muslim in Malaysia. The calligrapher is making a rough draft.

The Arabic alphabet derives from the Aramaic through Nabatean, to which it bears a loose resemblance like that of Coptic or Cyrillic scripts to Greek script. Traditionally, there were several differences between the Western (North African) and Middle Eastern versions of the alphabet—in particular, the faʼ had a dot underneath and qaf a single dot above in the Maghreb, and the order of the letters was slightly different (at least when they were used as numerals).

However, the old Maghrebi variant has been abandoned except for calligraphic purposes in the Maghreb itself, and remains in use mainly in the Quranic schools (zaouias) of West Africa. Arabic, like all other Semitic languages (except for the Latin-written Maltese, and the languages with the Ge'ez script), is written from right to left. There are several styles of script, notably naskh, which is used in print and by computers, and ruqʻah, which is commonly used in handwriting.[69]

Calligraphy

After Khalil ibn Ahmad al Farahidi finally fixed the Arabic script around 786, many styles were developed, both for the writing down of the Quran and other books, and for inscriptions on monuments as decoration.

Arabic calligraphy has not fallen out of use as calligraphy has in the Western world, and is still considered by Arabs as a major art form; calligraphers are held in great esteem. Being cursive by nature, unlike the Latin script, Arabic script is used to write down a verse of the Quran, a hadith, or simply a proverb. The composition is often abstract, but sometimes the writing is shaped into an actual form such as that of an animal. One of the current masters of the genre is Hassan Massoudy.

In modern times the intrinsically calligraphic nature of the written Arabic form is haunted by the thought that a typographic approach to the language, necessary for digitized unification, will not always accurately maintain meanings conveyed through calligraphy.[70]

Romanization

Examples of different transliteration/transcription schemes
Letter IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Wehr DIN ISO SAS - 2 BATR ArabTeX chat Malay
ء ʔ ʼ ʾ ˈ, ˌ ʾ ' e ' 2 '
ا ā ʾ ā aa aa / A a a/e/é a/o
ي j, y y; ī y; e y; ii y y; i/ee; ei/ai y; i
ث θ th ç c _t s/th ts
ج d͡ʒ~ɡ~ʒ j ǧ ŷ j j ^g j/g/dj j
ح ħ H .h 7 h
خ x kh j x K _h kh/7'/5 kh
ذ ð dh đ z' _d z/dh/th dz
ش ʃ sh š x ^s sh/ch sy
ص ş S .s s/9 sh
ض D .d d/9' dh
ط ţ T .tu t/6 th
ظ ðˤ~ đ̣ Z .z z/dh/6' zh
ع ʕ ʻ ʿ ř E ' 3 '
غ ɣ gh ġ g j g .g gh/3'/8 gh

There are a number of different standards for the romanization of Arabic, i.e. methods of accurately and efficiently representing Arabic with the Latin script. There are various conflicting motivations involved, which leads to multiple systems. Some are interested in transliteration, i.e. representing the spelling of Arabic, while others focus on transcription, i.e. representing the pronunciation of Arabic. (They differ in that, for example, the same letter ي‎ is used to represent both a consonant, as in "you" or "yet", and a vowel, as in "me" or "eat".) Some systems, e.g. for scholarly use, are intended to accurately and unambiguously represent the phonemes of Arabic, generally making the phonetics more explicit than the original word in the Arabic script. These systems are heavily reliant on diacritical marks such as "š" for the sound equivalently written sh in English. Other systems (e.g. the Bahá'í orthography) are intended to help readers who are neither Arabic speakers nor linguists with intuitive pronunciation of Arabic names and phrases.[71] These less "scientific" systems tend to avoid diacritics and use digraphs (like sh and kh). These are usually simpler to read, but sacrifice the definiteness of the scientific systems, and may lead to ambiguities, e.g. whether to interpret sh as a single sound, as in gash, or a combination of two sounds, as in gashouse. The ALA-LC romanization solves this problem by separating the two sounds with a prime symbol ( ′ ); e.g., as′hal 'easier'.

During the last few decades and especially since the 1990s, Western-invented text communication technologies have become prevalent in the Arab world, such as personal computers, the World Wide Web, email, bulletin board systems, IRC, instant messaging and mobile phone text messaging. Most of these technologies originally had the ability to communicate using the Latin script only, and some of them still do not have the Arabic script as an optional feature. As a result, Arabic speaking users communicated in these technologies by transliterating the Arabic text using the Latin script, sometimes known as IM Arabic.

To handle those Arabic letters that cannot be accurately represented using the Latin script, numerals and other characters were appropriated. For example, the numeral "3" may be used to represent the Arabic letter ⟨ع‎⟩. There is no universal name for this type of transliteration, but some have named it Arabic Chat Alphabet. Other systems of transliteration exist, such as using dots or capitalization to represent the "emphatic" counterparts of certain consonants. For instance, using capitalization, the letter ⟨د‎⟩, may be represented by d. Its emphatic counterpart, ⟨ض‎⟩, may be written as D.

Numerals

In most of present-day North Africa, the Western Arabic numerals (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) are used. However, in Egypt and Arabic-speaking countries to the east of it, the Eastern Arabic numerals (٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩) are in use. When representing a number in Arabic, the lowest-valued position is placed on the right, so the order of positions is the same as in left-to-right scripts. Sequences of digits such as telephone numbers are read from left to right, but numbers are spoken in the traditional Arabic fashion, with units and tens reversed from the modern English usage. For example, 24 is said "four and twenty" just like in the German language (vierundzwanzig) and Classical Hebrew, and 1975 is said "a thousand and nine-hundred and five and seventy" or, more eloquently, "a thousand and nine-hundred five seventy"

Language-standards regulators

Academy of the Arabic Language is the name of a number of language-regulation bodies formed in the Arab League. The most active are in Damascus and Cairo. They review language development, monitor new words and approve inclusion of new words into their published standard dictionaries. They also publish old and historical Arabic manuscripts.

As a foreign language

Arabic has been taught worldwide in many elementary and secondary schools, especially Muslim schools. Universities around the world have classes that teach Arabic as part of their foreign languages, Middle Eastern studies, and religious studies courses. Arabic language schools exist to assist students to learn Arabic outside the academic world. There are many Arabic language schools in the Arab world and other Muslim countries. Because the Quran is written in Arabic and all Islamic terms are in Arabic, millions of Muslims (both Arab and non-Arab) study the language. Software and books with tapes are also important part of Arabic learning, as many of Arabic learners may live in places where there are no academic or Arabic language school classes available. Radio series of Arabic language classes are also provided from some radio stations.[72] A number of websites on the Internet provide online classes for all levels as a means of distance education; most teach Modern Standard Arabic, but some teach regional varieties from numerous countries.[73]

Arabic speakers and other languages

Bahrain classroom
In Bahrain, Arabic is largely used in educational settings.

With the sole example of Medieval linguist Abu Hayyan al-Gharnati – who, while a scholar of the Arabic language, was not ethnically Arab – Medieval scholars of the Arabic language made no efforts at studying comparative linguistics, considering all other languages inferior.[74]

In modern times, the educated upper classes in the Arab world have taken a nearly opposite view. Yasir Suleiman wrote in 2011 that "studying and knowing English or French in most of the Middle East and North Africa have become a badge of sophistication and modernity and ... feigning, or asserting, weakness or lack of facility in Arabic is sometimes paraded as a sign of status, class, and perversely, even education through a mélange of code-switching practises."[75]

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b "Arabic – Ethnologue". Ethnologue. Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2018. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 21st edition. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Journal Officiel de la Republique du Senegal". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  3. ^ Wright (2001:492)
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of Arabic and its linguistic classification (Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics, forthcoming)". Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  7. ^ Abdulkafi Albirini. 2016. Modern Arabic Sociolinguistics (pp. 34–35).
  8. ^ Tomasz Kamusella. 2017. The Arabic Language: A Latin of Modernity? (pp. 117–145). Journal of Nationalism, Memory and Language Politics. Vol. 11, No 2.
  9. ^ Hull and Ruffino
  10. ^ "Christianity 2015: Religious Diversity and Personal Contact" (PDF). gordonconwell.edu. January 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Executive Summary". Future of the Global Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Table: Muslim Population by Country". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 27 January 2011. Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  13. ^ "UN official languages". un.org. 18 November 2014. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  14. ^ "World Arabic Language Day". UNESCO. 18 December 2014. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  15. ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2015). An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-28982-6.
  16. ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad. "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of Arabic and its linguistic classification (Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics, forthcoming)". Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  17. ^ Lentin, Jérôme (30 May 2011). "Middle Arabic". Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. Brill Reference. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  18. ^ a b Al-Jallad, Ahmad (30 May 2011). "Polygenesis in the Arabic Dialects". Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. Brill Reference. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  19. ^ Versteegh, Kees (2014). The Arabic Language. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-4529-9. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  20. ^ Retsö, Jan (1989). Diathesis in the Semitic Languages: A Comparative Morphological Study. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-08818-4. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  21. ^ Kaye (1991:?)
  22. ^ "Arabic Language." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009.
  23. ^ Jenkins, Orville Boyd (18 March 2000), Population Analysis of the Arabic Languages, archived from the original on 18 March 2009, retrieved 12 March 2009
  24. ^ Janet C.E. Watson, The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, Introduction, p. xix. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-160775-2
  25. ^ Proceedings and Debates of the 107th United States Congress Congressional Record, p. 10,462. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 2002.
  26. ^ Shalom Staub, Yemenis in New York City: The Folklore of Ethnicity, p. 124. Philadelphia: Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, 1989. ISBN 978-0-944190-05-0
  27. ^ Daniel Newman, Arabic-English Thematic Lexicon, p. 1. London: Routledge, 2007. ISBN 978-1-134-10392-8
  28. ^ Rebecca L. Torstrick and Elizabeth Faier, Culture and Customs of the Arab Gulf States, p. 41. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2009. ISBN 978-0-313-33659-1
  29. ^ Walter J. Ong, Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture, p. 32. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8014-6630-4
  30. ^ Clive Holes, Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties, p. 3. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-1-58901-022-2
  31. ^ Nizar Y. Habash,Introduction to Arabic Natural Language Processing, pp. 1–2. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59829-795-9
  32. ^ Bernard Bate, Tamil Oratory and the Dravidian Aesthetic: Democratic Practice in South India, pp. 14–15. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-231-51940-3
  33. ^ "Teaching Arabic in France". The Economist. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Top 50 English Words – of Arabic Origin". blogs.transparent.com. Arabic Language Blog. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  35. ^ EB staff. "Maltese language – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  36. ^ Gregersen (1977:237)
  37. ^ See the seminal study by Siegmund Fraenkel, Die aramäischen Fremdwörter im Arabischen, Leiden 1886 (repr. 1962)
  38. ^ See for instance Wilhelm Eilers, "Iranisches Lehngut im Arabischen", Actas IV. Congresso des Estudos Árabes et Islâmicos, Coimbra, Lisboa, Leiden 1971, with earlier references.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g Shrivtiel, Shraybom (1998). The Question of Romanisation of the Script and The Emergence of Nationalism in the Middle East. Mediterranean Language Review. pp. 179–196.
  40. ^ a b c d Shrivtiel, p. 188
  41. ^ a b c Shrivtiel, p. 189
  42. ^ a b Nicholson, Reynold. A Literary History of the arabs. The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press.
  43. ^ a b c Allen, Roger (2000). An introduction to Arabic literature (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77657-8.
  44. ^ a b Cobham, Adonis ; translated from the Arabic by Catherine (1990). An introduction to Arab poetics (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-73859-1.
  45. ^ "Arabic – the mother of all languages – Al Islam Online". Alislam.org. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  46. ^ Coffman, James (December 1995). "Does the Arabic Language Encourage Radical Islam?". Middle East Quarterly. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  47. ^ Ferguson, Charles (1959), "The Arabic Koine", Language, 35 (4): 616–630, doi:10.2307/410601, JSTOR 410601
  48. ^ Arabic, Egyptian Spoken (18th ed.). Ethnologue. 2006. Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  49. ^ a b Borg, Albert J.; Azzopardi-Alexander, Marie (1997). Maltese. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-02243-6.
  50. ^ Borg and Azzopardi-Alexander (1997). Maltese. Routledge. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-415-02243-9. In fact, Maltese displays some areal traits typical of Maghrebine Arabic, although over the past 800 years of independent evolution it has drifted apart from Tunisian Arabic
  51. ^ Brincat, 2005. Maltese – an unusual formula. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2018. Originally Maltese was an Arabic dialect but it was immediately exposed to Latinisation because the Normans conquered the islands in 1090, while Christianisation, which was complete by 1250, cut off the dialect from contact with Classical Arabic. Consequently Maltese developed on its own, slowly but steadily absorbing new words from Sicilian and Italian according to the needs of the developing community.
  52. ^ Robert D Hoberman (2007). Morphologies of Asia and Africa, Alan S. Kaye (Ed.), Chapter 13: Maltese Morphology. Eisenbrown. ISBN 978-1-57506-109-2. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2018. Maltese is the chief exception: Classical or Standard Arabic is irrelevant in the Maltese linguistic community and there is no diglossia.
  53. ^ Robert D Hoberman (2007). Morphologies of Asia and Africa, Alan S. Kaye (Ed.), Chapter 13: Maltese Morphology. Eisenbrown. ISBN 978-1-57506-109-2. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2018. yet it is in its morphology that Maltese also shows the most elaborate and deeply embedded influence from the Romance languages, Sicilian and Italian, with which it has long been in intimate contact….As a result Maltese is unique and different from Arabic and other Semitic languages.
  54. ^ "Mutual Intelligibility of Spoken Maltese, Libyan Arabic and Tunisian Arabic Functionally Tested: A Pilot Study". p. 1. Retrieved 23 September 2017. To summarise our findings, we might observe that when it comes to the most basic everyday language, as reflected in our data sets, speakers of Maltese are able to understand less than a third of what is being said to them in either Tunisian or Benghazi Libyan Arabic.
  55. ^ "Mutual Intelligibility of Spoken Maltese, Libyan Arabic and Tunisian Arabic Functionally Tested: A Pilot Study". p. 1. Retrieved 23 September 2017. Speakers of Tunisian and Libyan Arabic are able to understand about 40% of what is said to them in Maltese.
  56. ^ "Mutual Intelligibility of Spoken Maltese, Libyan Arabic and Tunisian Arabic Functionally Tested: A Pilot Study". p. 1. Retrieved 23 September 2017. In comparison, speakers of Libyan Arabic and speakers of Tunisian Arabic understand about two-thirds of what is being said to them.
  57. ^ Isserlin (1986). Studies in Islamic History and Civilization, ISBN 965-264-014-X
  58. ^ Lipinski (1997:124)
  59. ^ Al-Jallad, 42
  60. ^ Watson (2002:5, 15–16)
  61. ^ a b c Watson (2002:2)
  62. ^ Watson (2002:16)
  63. ^ Watson (2002:18)
  64. ^ Ferguson, Charles (1959), "The Arabic Koine", Language, 35 (4): 630, doi:10.2307/410601, JSTOR 410601
  65. ^ e.g., Thelwall (2003:52)
  66. ^ Watson, Janet (2002). The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic (PDF). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-01.
  67. ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2015). An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. Brill. p. 48. ISBN 978-90-04-28982-6.
  68. ^ Rydin, Karin C. (2005). A reference grammar of Modern Standard Arabic. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  69. ^ Hanna & Greis (1972:2)
  70. ^ Osborn, J.R. (2009). "Narratives of Arabic Script: Calligraphic Design and Modern Spaces". Design and Culture. 1 (3).
  71. ^ Kharusi, N.S. & Salman, A. (2011) The English Transliteration of Place Names in Oman. Journal of Academic and Applied Studies Vol. 1(3) September 2011, pp. 1–27 Available online at www.academians.org
  72. ^ Quesada, Thomas C. Arabic Keyboard (Atlanta ed.). Madisonville: Peter Jones. p. 49. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  73. ^ "Reviews of Language Courses". Lang1234. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  74. ^ Kees Versteegh, The Arabic Linguistic Tradition, p. 106. Part of Landmarks in Linguistic Thought series, vol. 3. New York: Routledge, 1997. ISBN 978-0-415-15757-5
  75. ^ Suleiman, p. 93

Sources

  • As-Sabil
  • Bateson, Mary Catherine (2003), Arabic Language Handbook, Georgetown University Press, ISBN 978-0-87840-386-8
  • Durand, Olivier; Langone, Angela D.; Mion, Giuliano (2010), Corso di Arabo Contemporaneo. Lingua Standard (in Italian), Milan: Hoepli, ISBN 978-88-203-4552-5
  • Gregersen, Edgar A. (1977), Language in Africa, CRC Press, ISBN 978-0-677-04380-7
  • Grigore, George (2007), L'arabe parlé à Mardin. Monographie d'un parler arabe périphérique, Bucharest: Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti, ISBN 978-973-737-249-9, archived from the original on 27 September 2007
  • Hanna, Sami A.; Greis, Naguib (1972), Writing Arabic: A Linguistic Approach, from Sounds to Script, Brill Archive, ISBN 978-90-04-03589-8
  • Haywood; Nahmad (1965), A new Arabic grammar, London: Lund Humphries, ISBN 978-0-85331-585-8
  • Hetzron, Robert (1997), The Semitic languages (Illustrated ed.), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7
  • Irwin, Robert (2006), For Lust of Knowing, London: Allen Lane
  • Kaplan, Robert B.; Baldauf, Richard B. (2007), Language Planning and Policy in Africa, Multilingual Matters, ISBN 978-1-85359-726-8
  • Kaye, Alan S. (1991), "The Hamzat al-Waṣl in Contemporary Modern Standard Arabic", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 111 (3): 572–574, doi:10.2307/604273, JSTOR 604273
  • Lane, Edward William (1893), Arabic–English Lexicon (2003 reprint ed.), New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-81-206-0107-9
  • Lipinski, Edward (1997), Semitic Languages, Leuven: Peeters
  • Mion, Giuliano (2007), La Lingua Araba (in Italian), Rome: Carocci, ISBN 978-88-430-4394-1
  • Mumisa, Michael (2003), Introducing Arabic, Goodword Books, ISBN 978-81-7898-211-3
  • Procházka, S. (2006), ""Arabic"", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2nd ed.)
  • Steingass, Francis Joseph (1993), Arabic–English Dictionary, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-81-206-0855-9
  • Suileman, Yasir. Arabic, Self and Identity: A Study in Conflict and Displacement. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 0-19-974701-6, 978-0-19-974701-6.
  • Thelwall, Robin (2003). "Arabic". Handbook of the International Phonetic Association a guide to the use of the international phonetic alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63751-0.
  • Traini, R. (1961), Vocabolario di arabo [Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic] (in Italian), Rome: I.P.O., Harassowitz
  • Vaglieri, Laura Veccia, Grammatica teorico-pratica della lingua araba, Rome: I.P.O.
  • Versteegh, Kees (1997), The Arabic Language, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-90-04-17702-4
  • Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-824137-9
  • Wehr, Hans (1952), Arabisches Wörterbuch für die Schriftsprache der Gegenwart: Arabisch-Deutsch (1985 reprint (English) ed.), Harassowitz, ISBN 978-3-447-01998-9
  • Wright, John W. (2001), The New York Times Almanac 2002, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-57958-348-4

External links

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera (Arabic: الجزيرة‎, translit. al-jazīrah, IPA: [æl (d)ʒæˈziːrɑ], literally "The Island", though referring to the Arabian Peninsula in context), also known as JSC (Jazeera Satellite Channel), is a state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current-affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the Internet and specialty television channels in multiple languages.

Al Jazeera Media Network is a major global news organization, with 80 bureaux around the world. The original Al Jazeera Arabic channel's willingness to broadcast dissenting views, for example on call-in shows, created controversies in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. The station gained worldwide attention following the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan, when its office there was the only channel to cover the war live.Al Jazeera Media Network is owned by the government of Qatar. Al Jazeera Media Network has stated that they are editorially independent from the government of Qatar as the network is funded through loans and grants rather than government subsidies. Critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a propaganda outlet for the Qatari government. The network is sometimes perceived to have mainly Islamist perspectives, promoting the Muslim Brotherhood, and having a pro-Sunni and an anti-Shia bias in its reporting of regional issues. However, Al Jazeera insists it covers all sides of a debate; it says it presents Israel's view, Iran's view and even aired videos released by Osama bin Laden. In June 2017, the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini, and Egyptian governments demanded the closure of the news station as one of thirteen demands made to Qatar during the 2017 Qatar Crisis. Other media networks have spoken out in support of the network. According to The Atlantic magazine, Al Jazeera presents a far more moderate, Westernized face than Islamic jihadism or rigid Sunni orthodoxy, and though the network has been criticized as "an 'Islamist' stalking horse" it actually features "very little specifically religious content in its broadcasts".

Algeria

Algeria ( (listen); Arabic: الجزائر‎ al-Jazā'ir, Algerian Arabic الدزاير al-dzāyīr; French: Algérie), officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria (Arabic: الجمهورية الجزائرية الديمقراطية الشعبية‎), is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes (counties). It has the highest human development index of all non-island African countries.

Ancient Algeria has known many empires and dynasties, including ancient Numidians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Umayyads, Abbasids, Idrisid, Aghlabid, Rustamid, Fatimids, Zirid, Hammadids, Almoravids, Almohads, Spaniards, Ottomans and the French colonial empire. Berbers are the indigenous inhabitants of Algeria.

Algeria is a regional and middle power. It supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, and energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 16th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa. Algeria has one of the largest militaries in Africa and the largest defence budget on the continent; most of Algeria's weapons are imported from Russia, with whom they are a close ally. Algeria is a member of the African Union, the Arab League, OPEC, the United Nations and is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union.

Allah

Allah (; Arabic: الله‎, translit. Allāh, IPA: [ɑɫˈɫɑː(h)] (listen)) is the Arabic word for God in Abrahamic religions. In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The word is thought to be derived by contraction from al-ilāh, which means "the god", and is related to El and Elah, the Hebrew and Aramaic words for God.The word Allah has been used by Arabic people of different religions since pre-Islamic times. More specifically, it has been used as a term for God by Muslims (both Arab and non-Arab) and Arab Christians. It is also often, albeit not exclusively, used in this way by Bábists, Bahá'ís, Mandaeans, Indonesian and Maltese Christians, and Mizrahi Jews. Similar usage by Christians and Sikhs in West Malaysia has recently led to political and legal controversies.

Arab world

The Arab world (Arabic: العالم العربي‎ al-ʿālam al-ʿarabī; formally: Arab homeland, الوطن العربي al-waṭan al-ʿarabī), also known as the Arab nation (الأمة العربية al-ummah al-ʿarabīyyah), the Arabsphere or the Arab states, currently consists of the 22 Arab countries of the Arab League. These Arab states occupy North Africa and West Asia; an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. The contemporary Arab world has a combined population of around 422 million inhabitants, over half of whom are under 25 years of age.In post-classical history, the Arab world was synonymous with the historic Arab empires and caliphates. Arab nationalism arose in the second half of the 19th century along with other nationalist movements within the Ottoman Empire. The Arab League was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of Arab people and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab countries; a project known as Pan-Arabism.

Arabic alphabet

The Arabic alphabet (Arabic: الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة‎ al-ʾabjadīyah al-ʿarabīyah, or الْحُرُوف الْعَرَبِيَّة al-ḥurūf al-ʿarabīyah) or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing Arabic. It is written from right to left in a cursive style and includes 28 letters. Most letters have contextual letterforms.

Originally, the alphabet was an abjad, with only consonants, but it is now considered an "impure abjad". As with other abjads, such as the Hebrew alphabet, scribes later devised means of indicating vowel sounds by separate vowel diacritics.

Arabic numerals

Arabic numerals are the ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; or numerals written using them in the Hindu–Arabic numeral system (where the position of a digit indicates the power of 10 to multiply it by). It is the most common system for the symbolic representation of numbers in the world today.

The Hindu-Arabic numeral system was developed by Indian mathematicians around AD 500 using quite different forms of the numerals. From India, the system was adopted by Arabic mathematicians in Baghdad and passed on to the Arabs farther west. The current form of the numerals developed in North Africa. It was in the North African city of Bejaia that the Italian scholar Fibonacci first encountered the numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe. The use of Arabic numerals spread around the world through European trade, books and colonialism.

The term Arabic numerals is ambiguous, it may also be intended to mean the numerals used by Arabs, in which case it generally refers to the Eastern Arabic numerals. Although the phrase "Arabic numeral" is frequently capitalized, it is sometimes written in lower case: for instance in its entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, which helps to distinguish it from "Arabic numerals" as the Eastern Arabic numerals.

Alternative names are Western Arabic numerals, Western numerals, Hindu–Arabic numerals, and Unicode calls them digits.

Arabic script

The Arabic script is the writing system used for writing Arabic and several other languages of Asia and Africa, such as Persian, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Sindhi, Pashto, Lurish, Urdu, Mandinka, and others. Until the 16th century, it was also used to write some texts in Spanish. Additionally, prior to the language reform in 1928, it was the writing system of Turkish. It is the second-most widely used writing system in the world by the number of countries using it and the third by the number of users, after Latin and Chinese characters.The Arabic script is written from right to left in a cursive style. In most cases, the letters transcribe consonants, or consonants and a few vowels, so most Arabic alphabets are abjads.

The script was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the Qurʼān, the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used to write languages of many language families, leading to the addition of new letters and other symbols, with some versions, such as Kurdish, Uyghur, and old Bosnian being abugidas or true alphabets. It is also the basis for the tradition of Arabic calligraphy.

Arabs

Arabs (; Arabic: عَرَب‎ ISO 233 ‘arab, Arabic pronunciation [ˈʕarab] (listen)) are a population inhabiting the Arab world. They primarily live in the Arab states in Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and western Indian Ocean islands. They also form a significant diaspora, with Arab communities established around the world. Arabs are the world's second largest ethnic group.

The first mention of Arabs is from the mid-ninth century BCE as a tribal people in eastern and southern Syria, and the north of the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs appear to have been under the vassalage of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BCE), and the succeeding Neo-Babylonian (626–539 BCE), Achaemenid (539–332 BCE), Seleucid, and Parthian empires. Arab tribes, most notably the Ghassanids and Lakhmids, begin to appear in the southern Syrian Desert from the mid 3rd century CE onward, during the mid to later stages of the Roman and Sasanian empires.Before the expansion of the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), "Arab" referred to any of the largely nomadic and settled Semitic people from the Arabian Peninsula, Syrian Desert, and North and Lower Mesopotamia. Today, "Arab" refers to a large number of people whose native regions form the Arab world due to the spread of Arabs and the Arabic language throughout the region during the early Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries and the subsequent Arabisation of indigenous populations. The Arabs forged the Rashidun (632–661), Umayyad (661–750), Abbasid (750–1517) and the Fatimid (901–1071) caliphates, whose borders reached southern France in the west, China in the east, Anatolia in the north, and the Sudan in the south. This was one of the largest land empires in history. In the early 20th century, the First World War signalled the end of the Ottoman Empire; which had ruled much of the Arab world since conquering the Mamluk Sultanate in 1517. This resulted in the defeat and dissolution of the empire and the partition of its territories, forming the modern Arab states. Following the adoption of the Alexandria Protocol in 1944, the Arab League was founded on 22 March 1945. The Charter of the Arab League endorsed the principle of an Arab homeland whilst respecting the individual sovereignty of its member states.Today, Arabs primarily inhabit the 22 Arab states within the Arab League: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Arab world stretches around 13 million km2, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. Beyond the boundaries of the League of Arab States, Arabs can also be found in the global diaspora. The ties that bind Arabs are ethnic, linguistic, cultural, historical, identical, nationalist, geographical and political. The Arabs have their own customs, language, architecture, art, literature, music, dance, media, cuisine, dress, society, sports and mythology. The total number of Arabs are an estimated 450 million.Arabs are a diverse group in terms of religious affiliations and practices. In the pre-Islamic era, most Arabs followed polytheistic religions. Some tribes had adopted Christianity or Judaism, and a few individuals, the hanifs, apparently observed monotheism. Today, about 93% of Arabs are adherents of Islam, and there are sizable Christian minorities. Arab Muslims primarily belong to the Sunni, Shiite, Ibadi, and Alawite denominations. Arab Christians generally follow one of the Eastern Christian Churches, such as the Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic churches. Other smaller minority religions are also followed, such as the Bahá'í Faith and Druze.

Arabs have greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields, notably the arts and architecture, language, philosophy, mythology, ethics, literature, politics, business, music, dance, cinema, medicine, science and technology in the ancient and modern history.

Egypt

Egypt ( (listen) EE-jipt; Arabic: مِصر‎ Miṣr, Egyptian Arabic: مَصر‎ Maṣr, Coptic: Ⲭⲏⲙⲓ Khēmi), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, and Nubian. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, and many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, and declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, and occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967. In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords, officially withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has been described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian.

Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, and a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt overtook South Africa and became Africa's second largest economy (after Nigeria). Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Islamic calendar

The Islamic, Muslim, or Hijri calendar (Arabic: التقويم الهجري‎ at-taqwīm al-hijrī) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the pilgrimage to Mecca. The civil calendar of almost all countries where the religion is predominantly Muslim is the Gregorian calendar. Notable exceptions to this rule are Iran and Afghanistan, which use the Solar Hijri calendar. Rents, wages and similar regular commitments are generally paid by the civil calendar.The Islamic calendar employs the Hijri era whose epoch was established as the Islamic New Year of 622 AD/CE. During that year, Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Yathrib (now Medina) and established the first Muslim community (ummah), an event commemorated as the Hijra. In the West, dates in this era are usually denoted AH (Latin: Anno Hegirae, "in the year of the Hijra") in parallel with the Christian (AD), Common (CE) and Jewish eras (AM). In Muslim countries, it is also sometimes denoted as H from its Arabic form (سَنة هِجْريّة, abbreviated هـ). In English, years prior to the Hijra are reckoned as BH ("Before the Hijra").The current Islamic year is 1440 AH. In the Gregorian calendar, 1440 AH runs from approximately 11 September 2018 to 30 August 2019.

Maghreb

The Maghreb (; Arabic: المغرب‎, translit. al-Maɣréb, lit. 'The West'), also known as Northwest Africa or Northern Africa, Greater Arab Maghreb (Arabic: المغرب العربي الكبير‎, translit. al-Maghrib al-ʿArabi al-Kabir), Arab Maghreb (Arabic: المغرب العربي‎, translit. al-Maghrib al-ʿArabi) or Greater Maghreb (Arabic: المغرب الكبير‎, translit. al-Maghrib al-Kabīr), or by some sources the Berber world, Barbary and Berbery, is a major region of North Africa that consists primarily of the countries Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. It additionally includes the disputed territories of Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco) and the cities of Melilla and Ceuta (both controlled by Spain and claimed by Morocco). As of 2018, the region has a population of over 100 million people.

In historical English and European literature, the region was known as the Barbary Coast or the Barbary States, derived from the native Berbers. Sometimes it was referred to as the Land of the Atlas, derived from the Atlas Mountains. In current Berber language media and literature, the region is part of what is known as Tamazgha.

The region is usually defined as much or most of northern Africa, including a large portion of Africa's Sahara Desert, and excluding Egypt, which is part of Mashriq. The traditional definition of the region that restricted it to the Atlas Mountains and the coastal plains of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya was expanded by the inclusion of Mauritania and of the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

During the era of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula (711–1492), the Maghreb's inhabitants, the Muslim Berbers or Maghrebis, were known by Europeans as "Moors", or as "Afariqah" (Roman Africans). Morocco transliterates into Arabic as "al-Maghreb" (The Maghreb).

Before the establishment of modern nation states in the region during the 20th century, Maghreb most commonly referred to a smaller area, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlas Mountains in the south. It often also included the territory of eastern Libya, but not modern Mauritania. As recently as the late 19th century, Maghreb was used to refer to the Western Mediterranean region of coastal North Africa in general, and to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, in particular.The region was somewhat unified as an independent political entity during the rule of the Berber kingdom of Numidia, which was followed by the Roman Empire's rule or influence. That was followed by the brief invasion of the Germanic Vandals, the equally brief re-establishment of a weak Roman rule by the Byzantine Empire, the rule of the Islamic Caliphates under the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Fatimid Caliphate. The most enduring rule was that of the local Berber empires of the Almoravid dynasty, Almohad Caliphate, Hammadid dynasty, Zirid dynasty, Marinid dynasty, Zayyanid dynasty, and Wattasid dynasty - from the 8th to 13th centuries. The Ottoman Empire for a period also controlled parts of the region.

Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya established the Arab Maghreb Union in 1989 to promote cooperation and economic integration in a common market. It was envisioned initially by Muammar Gaddafi as a superstate. The union included Western Sahara implicitly under Morocco's membership, putting Morocco's long cold war with Algeria to a rest. However, this progress was short-lived, and the union is now dormant. Tensions between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara re-emerged, reinforced by the unsolved border dispute between the two countries. These two main conflicts have hindered progress on the union's joint goals and practically made it inactive as a whole. However, the instability in the region and growing cross-border security threats revived the calls for regional cooperation, with foreign ministers of the Arab Maghreb Union declaring a need for coordinated security policy in May 2015 at the 33rd session of the follow-up committee meeting, which revived hope of some form of cooperation.

Maltese language

Maltese (Maltese: Malti) is the national language of Malta and a co-official language of the country alongside English, while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic, the extinct variety of Arabic that developed in Sicily and was later introduced to Malta, between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century.Maltese has evolved independently of Classical Arabic and its varieties into a standardized language over the past 800 years in a gradual process of Latinisation. Maltese is therefore considered an exceptional descendant of Arabic that has no diglossic relationship with Classical or Modern Standard Arabic, and is classified separately from the Arabic macrolanguage. Maltese is also unique among Semitic languages since its morphology has been deeply influenced by Romance languages, namely Italian and Sicilian.The original Semitic base, Siculo-Arabic, comprises around one-third of the Maltese vocabulary, especially words that denote basic ideas and the function words, but about half of the vocabulary is derived from standard Italian and Sicilian; and English words make up between 6% and 20% of the vocabulary. A recent study shows that, in terms of basic everyday language, speakers of Maltese are able to understand less than a third of what is said to them in Tunisian Arabic, which is related to Siculo-Arabic, whereas speakers of Tunisian are able to understand about 40% of what is said to them in Maltese. This reported level of asymmetric intelligibility is considerably lower than the mutual intelligibility found between Arabic dialects.Maltese has always been written in the Latin script, the earliest surviving example dating from the late Middle Ages. It remains the only standardized Semitic language written in the Latin script.

Middle East

The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey (both Asian and European), and Egypt (which is mostly in North Africa). Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest Middle Eastern nation while Bahrain is the smallest. The corresponding adjective is Middle Eastern and the derived noun is Middle Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East (as opposed to the Far East) beginning in the early 20th century.

Arabs, Turks, Persians, Kurds, and Azeris (excluding Azerbaijan) constitute the largest ethnic groups in the region by population. Arabs constitute the largest ethnic group in the region by a clear margin. Indigenous minorities of the Middle East include Jews, Baloch, Assyrians, Berbers (who primarily live in North Africa), Copts, Druze, Lurs, Mandaeans, Samaritans, Shabaks, Tats, and Zazas. European ethnic groups that form a diaspora in the region include Albanians, Bosniaks, Circassians (including Kabardians), Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Franco-Levantines, and Italo-Levantines. Among other migrant populations are Chinese, Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Pashtuns, Romani, and sub-Saharan Africans.

The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, with the (geopolitical) importance of the region being recognized for millennia. Several major religions have their origins in the Middle East, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the Baha'i faith, Mandaeism, Unitarian Druze, and numerous other belief systems were also established within the region.

The Middle East generally has a hot, arid climate, with several major rivers providing irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas such as the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia, and most of what is known as the Fertile Crescent.

Most of the countries that border the Persian Gulf have vast reserves of crude oil, with monarchs of the Arabian Peninsula in particular benefiting economically from petroleum exports.

One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: أَلْف لَيْلَة وَلَيْلَة‎, translit. ʾAlf layla wa-layla) is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706 – c. 1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, and South Asia and North Africa. Some tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Greek, Indian, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Abbasid and Mamluk eras, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hezār Afsān (Persian: هزار افسان‎, lit. A Thousand Tales), which in turn relied partly on Indian elements.What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more. The bulk of the text is in prose, although verse is occasionally used for songs and riddles and to express heightened emotion. Most of the poems are single couplets or quatrains, although some are longer.

Some of the stories commonly associated with The Nights, in particular "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", were not part of The Nights in its original Arabic versions but were added to the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators.

Persian language

Persian (), also known by its endonym Farsi (فارسی fārsi [fɒːɾˈsiː] (listen)), is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan (officially known as Dari since 1958), and Tajikistan (officially known as Tajiki since the Soviet era), Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

The Persian language is classified as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sasanian Empire, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenid Empire. Its grammar is similar to that of many contemporary European languages. A Persian-speaking person may be referred to as Persophone.There are approximately 110 million Persian speakers worldwide, with the language holding official status in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. For centuries, Persian has also been a prestigious cultural language in other regions of Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia by the various empires based in the regions.Persian has had a considerable (mainly lexical) influence on neighboring languages, particularly the Turkic languages in Central Asia, Caucasus, and Anatolia, neighboring Iranian languages, as well as Armenian, Georgian, and Indo-Aryan languages, especially Urdu (a register of Hindustani). It also exerted some influence on Arabic, particularly Bahrani Arabic, while borrowing much vocabulary from it after the Arab conquest of Iran.With a long history of literature in the form of Middle Persian before Islam, Persian was the first language in the Muslim world to break through Arabic's monopoly on writing, and the writing of poetry in Persian was established as a court tradition in many eastern courts. Some of the famous works of Persian literature are the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi, the Divān of Hafez and the two miscellanea of prose and verse by Saadi Shirazi, the Gulistan and the Bustan.

Quran

The Quran ([a] kor-AHN; Arabic: القرآن‎, translit. al-Qurʾān Arabic pronunciation: [alqur'ʔaːn],[b] literally meaning "the recitation"; also romanized Qur'an or Koran[c]) is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature. The Quran is divided into chapters (Arabic: سورة sūrah, plural سور suwar), which are subdivided into verses (Arabic: آية āyah, plural آيات āyāt).

Muslims believe that the Quran was orally revealed by God to the final Prophet, Muhammad, through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril), incrementally over a period of some 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as Muhammad's most important miracle, a proof of his prophethood, and the culmination of a series of divine messages starting with those revealed to Adam and ending with Muhammad. The word "Quran" occurs some 70 times in the Quran's text, and other names and words are also said to refer to the Quran.According to tradition, several of Muhammad's companions served as scribes and recorded the revelations. Shortly after his death, the Quran was compiled by the companions, who had written down or memorized parts of it. The codices showed differences that motivated Caliph Uthman to establish a standard version, now known as Uthman's codex, which is generally considered the archetype of the Quran known today. There are, however, variant readings, with mostly minor differences in meaning.The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Biblical scriptures. It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance for mankind 2:185. It sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, and it often emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence. Hadith are additional oral and written traditions supplementing the Quran; from careful authentication they are believed to describe words and actions of Muhammad, and in some traditions also those closest to him. In most denominations of Islam, the Quran is used together with hadith to interpret sharia (Islamic) law; in a small number of denominations, only the Quran is used as a source, an approach called Quranism. During prayers, the Quran is recited only in Arabic.Someone who has memorized the entire Quran is called a hafiz. Quranic verse (ayah) is sometimes recited with a special kind of elocution reserved for this purpose, called tajwid. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims typically complete the recitation of the whole Quran during tarawih prayers. In order to extrapolate the meaning of a particular Quranic verse, most Muslims rely on exegesis, or tafsir.

Semitic languages

The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East that are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as in often large immigrant and/or expatriate communities in North America, Europe and Australia. The terminology was first used in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, who derived the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis.

The most widely spoken Semitic languages today are (numbers given are for native speakers only) Arabic (300 million), Amharic (22 million), Tigrinya (7 million), Hebrew (~5 million native/L1 speakers), Tigre (~1.05 million), Aramaic (575,000 to 1 million largely Assyrian fluent speakers) and Maltese (483,000 speakers).Semitic languages occur in written form from a very early historical date, with East Semitic Akkadian and Eblaite texts (written in a script adapted from Sumerian cuneiform) appearing from the 30th century BCE and the 25th century BCE in Mesopotamia and the northern Levant respectively. The only earlier attested languages are Sumerian, Elamite (2800 BCE to 550 BCE) (both language isolates), Egyptian and unclassified Lullubi from the 30th century BCE.

Most scripts used to write Semitic languages are abjads – a type of alphabetic script that omits some or all of the vowels, which is feasible for these languages because the consonants in the Semitic languages are the primary carriers of meaning. Among them are the Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, and South Arabian alphabets. The Ge'ez script, used for writing the Semitic languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea, is technically an abugida – a modified abjad in which vowels are notated using diacritic marks added to the consonants at all times, in contrast with other Semitic languages which indicate diacritics based on need or for introductory purposes. Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script and the only Semitic language to be an official language of the European Union.

The Semitic languages are notable for their nonconcatenative morphology. That is, word roots are not themselves syllables or words, but instead are isolated sets of consonants (usually three, making a so-called triliteral root). Words are composed out of roots not so much by adding prefixes or suffixes, but rather by filling in the vowels between the root consonants (although prefixes and suffixes are often added as well). For example, in Arabic, the root meaning "write" has the form k-t-b. From this root, words are formed by filling in the vowels and sometimes adding additional consonants, e.g. كتاب kitāb "book", كتب kutub "books", كاتب kātib "writer", كتّاب kuttāb "writers", كتب kataba "he wrote", يكتب yaktubu "he writes", etc.

Sudan

Sudan or the Sudan (US: (listen), UK: ; Arabic: السودان‎ as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan (Arabic: جمهورية السودان‎ Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It houses 37 million people (2017) and occupies a total area of 1,861,484 square kilometres (718,722 square miles), making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and English. The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile.

Sudan's history goes back to the Pharaonic period, witnessing the kingdom of Kerma (c. 2500 BC–1500 BC), the subsequent rule of the Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1500 BC–1070 BC) and the rise of the kingdom of Kush (c. 785 BC–350 AD), which would in turn control Egypt itself for nearly a century. After the fall of Kush the Nubians formed the three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia, with the latter two lasting until around 1500. Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Muslim Arabs. From the 16th–19th centuries, central and eastern Sudan were dominated by the Funj sultanate, while Darfur ruled the west and the Ottomans the far north. This period saw extensive Islamization and Arabization.

From 1820 to 1874 the entirety of Sudan was conquered by the Muhammad Ali dynasty. Between 1881 and 1885 the harsh Egyptian reign was eventually met with a successful revolt led by the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, resulting in the establishment of the Caliphate of Omdurman. This state was eventually destroyed in 1898 by the British, who would then govern Sudan together with Egypt.

The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism and in 1953 Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Gaafar Nimeiry, Sudan instituted Islamic law in 1983. This exacerbated the rift between the Arab north, the seat of the government and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Differences in language, religion, ethnicity and political power erupted in a civil war between government forces, strongly influenced by the National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction was the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), eventually concluding in the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Since 2011, Sudan's government has been engaged in a war with the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Human rights violations, religious persecution and allegations that Sudan had been a safe haven for terrorists isolated the country from most of the international community. In 1995, the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions against Sudan.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE; Arabic: دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة‎ Dawlat al-ʾImārāt al-ʿArabīyyah al-Muttaḥidah), sometimes simply called the Emirates (Arabic: الإمارات‎ al-ʾImārāt), is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.Human occupation of the present UAE has been traced back to the emergence of anatomically modern humans from Africa some 125,000 BCE through finds at the Faya-1 site in Mleiha, Sharjah. Burial sites dating back to the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age include the oldest known such inland site at Jebel Buhais. Known as Magan to the Sumerians, the area was home to a prosperous Bronze Age trading culture during the Umm Al Nar period, which traded between the Indus Valley, Bahrain and Mesopotamia as well as Iran, Bactria and the Levant. The ensuing Wadi Suq period and three Iron Ages saw the emergence of nomadism as well as the development of water management and irrigation systems supporting human settlement in both the coast and interior. The Islamic age of the UAE dates back to the expulsion of the Sasanians and the subsequent Battle of Dibba. The UAE's long history of trade led to the emergence of Julfar, in the present day emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, as a major regional trading and maritime hub in the area. The maritime dominance of the Persian Gulf by Emirati traders led to conflicts with European powers, including the Portuguese and British.

Following decades of maritime conflict, the coastal emirates became known as the Trucial States with the signing of a Perpetual Treaty of Maritime Peace with the British in 1819 (ratified in 1853 and again in 1892), which established the Trucial States as a British Protectorate. This arrangement ended with independence and the establishment of the United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971, immediately following the British withdrawal from its treaty obligations. Six emirates joined the UAE in 1971, the seventh, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the federation on 10 February 1972.Islam is the official religion and Arabic is the official language of the UAE. The UAE's oil reserves are the seventh-largest in the world while its natural gas reserves are the world's seventeenth-largest. Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the UAE, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education and infrastructure. The UAE's economy is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, while its most populous city of Dubai is an important global city and an international aviation and maritime trade hub. Nevertheless, the country is much less reliant on oil and gas than in previous years and is economically focusing on tourism and business. The UAE government does not levy income tax although there is a system of corporate tax in place and value added tax was established in 2018 at 5%.The UAE's rising international profile has led to it being recognised as a regional and middle power. It is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Arabic language
Overviews
Alphabet
Letters
Notable varieties
Pidgins/Creoles
Academic
Linguistics
Technical
Varieties of Arabic
Pre-Islamic
Modern literary
Nilo-Egyptian
Peninsular
Eastern
Levantine
Western
Undescribed
Judeo-Arabic
Creoles and pidgins

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.