THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS ARABIC TEXT . Without proper rendering
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Arabic : العَرَبِيَّة, _al-ʻarabiyyah_
(_ listen ) or
Arabic : عَرَبِيّ ʻarabī_ (_ listen )
or ) is a Central Semitic language complex that first emerged in Iron
Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca _ of the Arab
world . It is named after the
Arabs , a term initially used to
describe peoples living from
Mesopotamia in the east to the
Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the
The modern written language (
Modern Standard Arabic ) is derived from
Classical Arabic . It 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
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.
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
Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European
languages , mainly Portuguese and Spanish 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 . Balkan languages, including Greek , have also
acquired a significant number of
Arabic words through contact with
Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its
history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian , Turkish ,
Spanish , Maltese ,
Urdu , Kashmiri , Kurdish , Bosnian , Kazakh ,
Hindi , Malay , Maldivian , Indonesian , Pashto , Punjabi ,
Tagalog , Sindhi and Hausa and some languages in parts of Africa.
Despite being an influential language,
Arabic has borrowed words from
other languages including Greek and Persian in medieval times, and
European languages such as English and French in modern
Classical Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.7 billion Muslims
Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the
United Nations . It is spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million
speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world, 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.
* 1 Classification
* 2 History
Old Higazi and
* 2.3 Neo-
* 3 Classical, Modern Standard and spoken
* 4 Language and dialect
Influence of Arabic on other languages
* 6 Influence of other languages on
Arabic alphabet and nationalism
* 8 The language of the
Quran and its influence on Poetry
* 8.1 Quran\'s figurative devices
Culture and the
* 9 Dialects and descendants
* 9.1 Examples
* 10.1 History
* 10.2.1 Vowels
* 10.2.2 Consonants
* 10.2.3 Syllable structure
* 10.2.4 Stress
* 10.2.5 Levels of pronunciation
* 10.2.5.1 Full pronunciation with pausa
* 10.2.5.2 Formal short pronunciation
* 10.2.5.3 Informal short pronunciation
* 10.3 Colloquial varieties
* 10.3.1 Vowels
* 10.3.2 Consonants
* 11 Grammar
* 11.1.1 Nouns and adjectives
* 11.1.2 Verbs
* 11.1.3 Derivation
* 11.2 Colloquial varieties
* 12.1 Calligraphy
* 12.2 Romanization
* 12.3 Numerals
* 13 Language-standards regulators
* 14 As a foreign language
Arabic speakers and other languages
* 16 See also
* 17 References
* 18 External links
Arabic is a Central Semitic language, closely related to the
Semitic languages (Aramaic , Hebrew ,
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
Semitic languages , particularly in grammar. Innovations
of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include:
* The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation
(_jalas-_) into a past tense.
* The conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation
(_yajlis-_) into a present tense.
* 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).
* The development of an internal passive.
There are several features which Classical Arabic, the modern Arabic
varieties, as well as the
Hismaic inscriptions share
which are unattested in any other Central Semitic language variety,
Taymanitic languages of the northern Hijaz
. These features are evidence of common descent from a hypothetical
Proto-Arabic . The following features can be reconstructed
with confidence for Proto-Arabic:
* negative particles _m_ *_mā_; _lʾn_ *_lā-ʾan_ > CAr _lan_
* _mafʿūl_ G-passive participle
* prepositions and adverbs _f_, _ʿn_, _ʿnd_, _ḥt_, _ʿkdy_
* a subjunctive in -_a_
* leveling of the -_at_ allomorph of the feminine ending
* _ʾn_ complementizer and subordinator
* the use of _f_- to introduce modal clauses
* independent object pronoun in (_ʾ_)_y_
* vestiges of _nunation_
Old Arabic 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
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
Hismaic are in fact early forms of
Arabic and that
they should be considered
Old Arabic .
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
Arabic other than that of the Nabataeans.
OLD HIGAZI AND CLASSICAL ARABIC
In late pre-Islamic times, a transdialectal and transcommunal variety
Arabic emerged in the
Hijaz 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). variety and both its
classicizing and "lay" iterations have been termed Middle
the past, but they are thought to continue an
Old Higazi register. It
is clear that the orthography of the Qurʾān was not developed for
the standardized form of Classical Arabic; rather, it shows the
attempt on the part of writers to recording an archaic form of Old
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
Arabic poets and Arabic-writing persons spoke
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 Qurʾān usage and
Bedouin informants whom he considered
to be reliable speakers of the _ʿarabiyya_. By the 8th century,
Classical Arabic had become an essential prerequisite for
rising into the higher classes throughout the Islamic world.
Charles Ferguson’s koine theory (Ferguson 1959), claims that the
Arabic dialects collectively descend from a single military
koine that sprung 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.
According to Veersteegh and Bickerton colloquial
arose from pidginized
Arabic formed from contact between
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
CLASSICAL, MODERN STANDARD AND SPOKEN ARABIC
List of Arabic dictionaries
_Arabic_ usually designates one of three main variants: Classical
Modern Standard Arabic and _colloquial_ or _dialectal_ Arabic
Classical Arabic is the language found in the
Quran , used from the
Pre-Islamic Arabia to that of the
Abbasid Caliphate .
Classical Arabic is considered normative, according to
the syntactic and grammatical norms laid down by classical grammarians
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
spoken by some of the
Arabic media across
North Africa , and the
Middle East , and understood by most educated
"Literary Arabic" and "Standard Arabic" (فُصْحَى _fuṣḥá_)
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
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
* 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. Some words have been borrowed from other
languages—notice that transliteration mainly indicates spelling and
not real pronunciation (e.g., فِلْم _film_ 'film' or
ديمقراطية _dīmuqrāṭiyyah_ 'democracy').
However, the current preference is to avoid direct borrowings,
preferring to either use loan translations (e.g., فرع _farʻ_
'branch', also used for the branch of a company or organization;
جناح _janāḥ_ 'wing', is also used for the wing of an airplane,
building, air force, etc.), or to coin new words using forms within
existing roots (استماتة _istimātah_ 'apoptosis ', using the
root موت _m/w/t_ 'death' put into the Xth form , or جامعة
_jāmiʻah_ 'university', based on جمع _jamaʻa_ 'to gather,
unite'; جمهورية _jumhūriyyah_ 'republic', based on جمهور
_jumhūr_ 'multitude'). An earlier tendency was to redefine older word
although this has fallen into disuse (e.g., هاتف _hātif_
'telephone' < 'invisible caller (in Sufism)'; جريدة _jarīdah_
'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. The varieties are typically unwritten. They are often used
in informal spoken media, such as soap operas and talk shows , 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 (predominately Catholic ) Malta
and written with the
Latin script . It is descended from Classical
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. Flag of the Arab
League , used in some cases for the
Arabic language. Flag used
in some cases for the
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
written down. However, the dialects of the eastern Arabian peninsula
were considered the most prestigious at the time, so the language of
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
any nationality can be assumed to speak both their school-taught
Standard Arabic as well as their native, mutually unintelligible
"dialects"; these dialects linguistically constitute separate
languages which may have dialects of their own. 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
Urdu , Serbian and Croatian , Scots and English,
etc. In contrast to speakers of
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. 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
Arabs mostly assert that they all speak a single
language, despite significant issues of mutual incomprehensibility
among differing spoken versions.
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 . 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
List of Arabic loanwords in English
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
Baluchi , Bengali , Berber , Bosnian , Catalan , Chechen , Dagestani ,
English , French , German , Gujarati , Hausa , Hindustani , Italian ,
Indonesian , Kazakh , Kurdish , Kutchi , Malay , Pashto , Persian ,
Portuguese , Punjabi , Rohingya , Saraiki , Sicilian , Sindhi , Somali
, Spanish , Swahili , Tagalog , Turkish ,
Urdu , Uzbek , and Wolof ,
as well as other languages in countries where these languages are
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 many other words. Other languages
such as Maltese 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 _ (صلاة _ṣalāh_)), 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_),
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 .
Some words in English and other
European languages are derived from
Arabic, often through other European languages, especially Spanish and
Italian. Among them are commonly used words like "coffee " (قهوة
_qahwah_), "cotton " (قطن _quṭn_), and "magazine" (مخازن
_makhāzin _). English words more recognizably of
include "algebra ", "alcohol ", "alchemy ", "alkali ", "zenith ", and
Arabic words also made their way into several West African languages
Islam spread across the Sahara. Variants of
Arabic words such as
كتاب _kitāb_ ("book") have spread to the languages of African
groups who had no direct contact with Arab traders.
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
INFLUENCE OF OTHER LANGUAGES ON ARABIC
The most important sources of borrowings into (pre-Islamic) Arabic
are from the related (Semitic) languages Aramaic , 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
Iranian languages , notably
Middle Persian , Parthian , and (Classical) Persian, 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
* _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
Arabic language to use
Latin script is Maltese .
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
Arabic Language Academy in Damacus 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.
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. 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. A
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. Ahmad Lutfi As Sayid and Muhammad
Azmi, two Egyptian intellectuals, agreed with Musa and supported the
push for Romanization. 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
Arabic Language Academy of Cairo. However, this effort failed as
the Egyptian people felt a strong cultural tie to the
In particular, the older Egyptian generations believed that the
Arabic alphabet had strong connections to Arab values and history,
which is easy to believe due to the long history of the Arabic
alphabet (Shrivtiel, 189) in Muslim societies.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE QURAN AND ITS INFLUENCE ON POETRY
Quran introduced a new way of writing to the world. People began
studying applying the unique styles they learned from the
not only their own writing, but also their culture .The deep level on
Quran addresses the reader creates a strong bond and
connection to the reader's soul. 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
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
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. OPoets 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. The
Quran uses figurative devices in order to express the meaning in the
most beautiful form possible. The study of the pauses in the
well as other rhetoric allow it to be approached in a multiple ways.
Quran is known for its fluency and harmony , the
structure can be best described as chaotic . The suras also known as
verses 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
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.
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. 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. Because the
structure of the
Quran made it difficult for a clear timeline to be
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
Quran began possessing this element of tradition by including
ambiguity and background information to be required to understand the
Quran came down to the people, the tradition of memorizing
the verses became present. It is believed that the larger amount of
Quran memorized is a sign of a stronger faith. As technology
improved overtime, hearing recitations of
Quran became more available
as well as more tools to help memorize the versus. 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
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 that they cannot be compared with the fluency the Quran
ARABIC AND ISLAM
Classical Arabic is the language of poetry and literature (including
news); it is also mainly the language of the
Quran . At present,
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is also used in modernized versions of
literary forms of the Quran.
Arabic is closely associated with the
Islam because the
Quran was written in Arabic, but it is
nevertheless also spoken by other religious groups such as Arab
Mizrahi Jews ,
Druze and Iraqi Mandaeans . Most of the
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.
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
Judaism has a similar account with the
Tower of Babel .
DIALECTS AND DESCENDANTS
Varieties of Arabic 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
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.
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.
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
(common spelling) أحب القراءة كثيرا
عندما ذهبت إلى المكتبة
لم أجد هذا الكتاب القديم
كنت أريد أن أقرأ كتابا عن تاريخ
Literary Arabic in
(with all vowels) أُحِبُّ ٱلْقِرَاءَةَ
عِنْدَمَا ذَهَبْتُ إِلَى
لَمْ أَجِد هٰذَا ٱلْكِتَابَ
كُنْتُ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَقْرَأَ
كِتَابًا عَنْ تَارِيخِ ٱلْمَرْأَةِ
(liturgical or poetic only) ʔuħibːu‿lqirˤaːʔata
ʕĩndamaː ðahabᵊtu ʔila‿lmaktabah
lam ʔaɟid haːða‿lkitaːba‿lqadiːm
kũntu ʔuriːdu ʔan ʔaqᵊrˤaʔa kitaːban ʕan
taːriːχi‿lmarˤʔati fiː farˤãnsaː
MODERN STANDARD ARABIC
ʕindamaː ðahabt ʔila‿lmaktaba
lam ʔad͡ʒid haːða‿lkitaːba‿lqadiːm
kunt ʔuriːd ʔan ʔaqraʔ kitaːban ʕan taːriːχi‿lmarʔa
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
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
HIJAZI 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
ana baħebː elʔeraːja ʔawi
lamːa roħt elmakˈtaba
malʔetʃ elketaːb elʔadim da
ana kont(e)‿ʕawz‿aʔra ktab ʕan tariːx esːetˈtat fe
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
nħib liqraːja barʃa
waqtilli mʃiːt lilmaktba
mal-qiːtʃ ha-likteːb liqdiːm
kʊnt nħib naqra kteːb ʕla terix limra fi fraːnsa
eːna nħebb l-qraːja bezzef
ki ruħt l il-maktaba
ma-lqiːt-ʃ ha l-kteːb l-qdiːm
kunt ħaːb naqra kteːb ʕala tariːx l-mra fi fraːnsa
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
(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.
Charles A. Ferguson , the following are some of the
characteristic features of the koine 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 (grammatical number) except on nouns, with
consistent plural agreement (cf. feminine singular agreement in plural
* 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' →
* Conversion of separate words _lī_ '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/.
Egyptian Arabic is spoken by around 53 million in
million worldwide). It is one of the most understood varieties of
Arabic, due in large part to the widespread distribution of Egyptian
films and television shows throughout the Arabic-speaking world
Levantine Arabic includes North
Levantine Arabic , South Levantine
Cypriot Arabic . It is spoken by about 21 million people in
Jordan , Palestine ,
Lebanese Arabic is a variety of
Levantine Arabic spoken primarily
Jordanian Arabic is a continuum of mutually intelligible varieties
Levantine Arabic spoken by the population of the Kingdom of Jordan
Palestinian Arabic is a name of several dialects of the subgroup
Levantine Arabic spoken by the
Palestinians in Palestine , by Arab
Israel and in most Palestinian populations around the
Arabic , spoken by only several hundred in the Nablus
Cypriot Maronite Arabic , spoken in
Maghrebi Arabic , also called "Darija" spoken by about 70 million
Libya and Malta. It is very
hard to understand for
Arabic speakers from the
Mesopotamia, the easiest being
Libyan Arabic and the hardest Moroccan
Maltese language (which is close to Tunisian Arabic). The
others such as
Algerian Arabic can be considered "in between".
Libyan Arabic spoken in
Libya and neighboring countries.
Tunisian Arabic spoken in
Tunisia and North-eastern
Algerian Arabic spoken in
Algerian Arabic was spoken by Jews in
Algeria until 1962
Moroccan Arabic spoken in
* Maltese , spoken on the island of Malta, is the only dialect to
have established itself as a fully separate language, with independent
Sicilian Arabic , spoken on the island of
the 14th century, developed into Maltese in Malta. In the course of
its history the language has adopted numerous loanwords, phonetic and
phonological features, and even some grammatical patterns, from
Italian, Sicilian and English. It is also the only Semitic language
written in the
Latin script . Furthermore, Maltese or Sicilian Arabic
are closely related to
Tunisian Arabic due to the cultural and
historical ties between
Tunisia and Malta, and the languages are
partially mutually intelligible.
Andalusian Arabic , spoken in
Spain until the 16th century.
Siculo-Arabic , was spoken in
Malta between the end of
the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century.
Mesopotamian Arabic , spoken by about 32 million people in Iraq
(where it is called "Aamiyah"), eastern
Syria and southwestern Iran
Baghdad Arabic is the
Arabic dialect spoken in
Baghdad , the
capital of Iraq. It is a subvariety of
Mesopotamian Arabic .
Kuwaiti Arabic is a
Gulf Arabic dialect spoken in
Khuzestani Arabic spoken in the Iranian province of
Khorasani Arabic spoken in the Iranian province of Khorasan .
Sudanese Arabic is spoken by 17 million people in
Sudan and some
parts of southern Egypt.
Sudanese Arabic is quite distinct from the
dialect of its neighbor to the north; rather, the Sudanese have a
dialect similar to the Hijazi dialect.
Juba Arabic spoken in South
Sudan and southern
Gulf Arabic , spoken by around four million people, predominantly
Bahrain , some parts of
Oman , eastern Saudi Arabia
coastal areas and some parts of UAE and Qatar. Also spoken in Iran's
Bushehr and Hormozgan provinces. Although
Gulf Arabic is spoken in
Qatar, most Qatari citizens speak
Najdi Arabic (Bedawi).
Yemeni Arabic spoken in
Djibouti and southern
Saudi Arabia by 15 million people. Similar to Gulf Arabic.
Najdi Arabic , spoken by around 10 million people, mainly spoken
in Najd, central and northern Saudi Arabia. Most Qatari citizens speak
Najdi Arabic (Bedawi).
Hejazi Arabic (6 million speakers), spoken in Hijaz, western Saudi
Hassaniya Arabic (3 million speakers), spoken in
Western Sahara , some parts of northern
Mali , southern
Saharan Arabic spoken in some parts of
Bahrani Arabic (600,000 speakers), spoken by Bahrani Shiʻah in
Qatif , the dialect exhibits many big differences from
Gulf Arabic. It is also spoken to a lesser extent in Oman.
Judeo-Arabic dialects - these are the dialects spoken by the Jews
that had lived or continue to live in the Arab World. As Jewish
Israel took hold, the language did not thrive and is now
Chadian Arabic , spoken in
Sudan , some parts of South
Central African Republic ,
Central Asian Arabic , spoken in
Afghanistan , is highly endangered
Shirvani Arabic , spoken in
Dagestan until the
1930s, now extinct.
Of the 29
Proto-Semitic consonants, only one has been lost: */ʒ/,
which merged with /ʃ/. But the consonant */ʒ/ is still found in
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
Arabic languages - became palatalized to /ɡʲ/ or
/ɟ/ by the time of the
Quran and /d͡ʒ /, /ɡ /, /ʒ / or /ɟ/ in
Arabic phonology#Local variations for more detail). An
original voiceless alveolar lateral fricative */ɬ/ became /ʃ/. Its
emphatic counterpart /ɬˠ~ɮˤ/ was considered by
Arabs to be the
most unusual sound in
Arabic (Hence the Classical Arabic's appellation
لُغَةُ ٱلضَّادِ _lughat al-ḍād_ or "language of the
_ḍād_"); for most modern dialects, it has become an emphatic stop
/dˤ/ with loss of the laterality 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
Modern South Arabian languages .)
Other changes may also have happened.
Classical Arabic pronunciation
is not thoroughly recorded and different reconstructions of the sound
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.
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.
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
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/.
The "colloquial" spoken varieties 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 broadcasts, formal
lectures, parliamentary discussions and to some extent between
speakers of different colloquial varieties. Even when the literary
language is spoken, however, it is normally only spoken in its pure
form when reading a prepared text out loud. 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. Recording of a poem by Al-Ma\'arri
titled "I no longer steal from nature"
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
Proto-Semitic /g/ has many different pronunciations in the modern
spoken varieties, e.g., . Speakers whose native variety has either or
will use the same pronunciation when speaking MSA. Even speakers from
Cairo , whose native
Egyptian Arabic has , normally use when speaking
MSA. The of Persian Gulf speakers is the only variant pronunciation
which isn't found in MSA; is used instead.
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 in these circumstances and very
often fronted to 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.)
Modern Standard Arabic has six pure vowels , 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 , or in most situations, but a back in the
neighborhood of emphatic consonants . Some accents and dialects, such
as those of the
Hijaz , have central in all situations. The vowel /a/
varies towards too. Listen to the final vowel in the recording of
_al-ʻarabiyyah_ at the beginning of this article, for example. The
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 and , respectively, in many
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 uvular
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., وقت _waqt_ 'time'; وطن _waṭan_ 'homeland'; وسط
المدينة _wasṭ al-madīnah_ 'downtown' (sometimes or
In a non-emphatic environment, the vowel /a/ in the diphthong /aj/
tends to be fronted even more than elsewhere, often pronounced or :
hence سيف _sayf_ 'sword' but صيف _ṣayf_ 'summer'. However,
in accents with no emphatic allophones of /a/ (e.g., in the
the pronunciation occurs in all situations.
Consonant phonemes of
Modern Standard Arabic
x ~ χ
ɣ ~ ʁ
The phoneme /d͡ʒ/ is represented by the
Arabic letter _jīm_ (
and has many standard pronunciations. is characteristic of north
Algeria, Iraq, also in most of the
Arabian peninsula but with an
allophonic in some positions; occurs in most of the
Levant and most
North Africa; and is used in most of
Egypt and some regions in Yemen
and Oman. Generally this corresponds with the pronunciation in the
colloquial dialects. In some regions in
Sudan and Yemen, as well as
in some Sudanese and Yemeni dialects, it may be either or ,
representing the original pronunciation of Classical Arabic. Foreign
words containing /ɡ / may be transcribed with
ݣ or ڨ, mainly depending on the regional
spoken variety of
Arabic or the commonly diacriticized
Note also that in northern Egypt, where the
Arabic letter _jīm_ (
is normally pronounced , 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 or even . In some places of Maghreb
it can be also pronounced as .
/x/ and /ɣ/ (خ, غ) are velar, post-velar, or uvular.
In many varieties, /ħ, ʕ/ (ح, ع) are actually epiglottal
(despite what is reported in many earlier works).
/l/ is pronounced as velarized in الله /ʔallaːh/, the name of
Allah , when the word follows _a_, _ā_, _u_ or _ū_ (after
_i_ or _ī_ it is unvelarized: بسم الله _bismi 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 , or possibly
—either way, a highly unusual sound. The medieval
termed their language _lughat al-ḍād_ 'the language of the
(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 as well as varying degrees of velarization , 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. 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, ⟨ḍ⟩.
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: قبل _qabila_ 'he accepted' vs. قبّل _qabbala_ 'he
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 حارّ _ḥārr_ 'hot',
مادّة _māddah_ 'stuff, substance', تحاجوا _taḥājjū_
'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
In surface pronunciation, every vowel must be preceded by a consonant
(which may include the glottal stop ). 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
اشترا _ishtarā_ 'he bought', اجتماع _ijtimāʻ_ '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.,
اجتماع _al-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 المدير _baytu
(a)l-mudīr_ 'house of the director' /bajtulmudiːr/.
* If the word occurs at the beginning of an utterance, a glottal
stop is added onto the beginning, e.g., البيت هو _al-baytu
huwa ..._ 'The house is ...' /ʔalbajtuhuwa ... /.
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
* 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 _ishtarā_ 'he bought', _yashtarī_ 'he buys'.
Examples:_kitāb(un)_ 'book', _kā-ti-b(un)_ 'writer', _mak-ta-b(un)_
'desk', _ma-kā-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-bū-h(u)_ (Modern Standard Arabic) 'they wrote it' =
_ka-ta-bū_ (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
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
Some dialects have different stress rules. In the
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', _mā-sat-hum_ 'their table',
_ma-kā-tīb_ 'desks', _zā-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:
Full Pronunciation With pausa
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 _-ā_ in other
nouns (hence its writing in this fashion in the
* 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.)
Formal Short Pronunciation
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
* 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_
* The nunation endings _-an -in -un_ are not pronounced. However,
they _are_ pronounced in adverbial accusative formations, e.g.,
_taqrīban_ تَقْرِيبًا 'almost, approximately', _ʻādatan_
* 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
_-ī_ 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').
Informal Short Pronunciation
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
* The past tense singular endings written formally as _-tu -ta -ti_
are pronounced _-t -t -ti_. But masculine _ʾanta_ is pronounced in
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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_
* 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
Varieties of Arabic
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 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 and
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 /ǝ/ 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 /ǝ/, which is deleted in many contexts. (The
labialization plus /ǝ/ 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 , phonemically /a i u/, which are used to
represent _both_ short and long vowels in borrowings from Literary
Most spoken dialects have monophthongized original /aj aw/ to /eː
oː/ (in all circumstances, including adjacent to emphatic
consonants). In Moroccan Arabic, these have subsequently merged into
original /iː uː/.
In some dialects, there may be more or fewer phonemes than those
listed in the chart above. For example, non-
Arabic is used in the
Maghrebi dialects as well in the written language mostly for foreign
names. Semitic became 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 and . The Iraqi Arabic
also uses sounds , and uses Persian adding letters, e.g.: گوجة
_gawjah_ – _a plum_; چمة _chimah –_ a truffle _and so on._
Early in the expansion of Arabic, the separate emphatic phonemes and
coalesced into a single phoneme . Many dialects (such as Egyptian,
Levantine, and much of the Maghreb) subsequently lost interdental
fricatives , converting into . Most dialects borrow "learned" words
from the Standard language using the same pronunciation as for
inherited words, but some dialects without interdental fricatives
Egypt and the Levant) render original in borrowed
words as .
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 in several prestige dialects , such as
those spoken in Cairo, Beirut and Damascus. But it is rendered as a
voiced velar plosive 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 , as do Shiʻi Bahrainis. In some Gulf dialects,
it is palatalized to or . It is pronounced as a voiced uvular
constrictive in Sudanese Arabic. Many dialects with a modified
pronunciation for /q / maintain the pronunciation in certain words
(often with religious or educational overtones) borrowed from the
ج /d͡ʒ/ is pronounced as an affricate in
Iraq and much of the
Arabian Peninsula, but is pronounced in most of North
Egypt and parts
Yemen and Oman, in Morocco,
Tunisia and the Levant, and , 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 much 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 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. /tˤ / in Moroccan Arabic, because the former
is pronounced as an affricate but the latter is not.)
Examples of how the
Arabic root and form system works. Main
Modern Standard 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
* _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'
Nouns And Adjectives
Literary Arabic have three grammatical cases (nominative ,
accusative , and genitive ); 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 ).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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
Most of these forms are exclusively
'he made (someone) write'
"he makes (someone) write"
'he corresponded with, wrote to (someone)'
'he corresponds with, writes to (someone)'
'he corresponded (with someone, esp. mutually)'
'he corresponds (with someone, esp. mutually)'
'he turned red'
'he turns red'
'he asked (someone) to write'
'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
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
Varieties of Arabic
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
Example of a regular Form I verb in
Egyptian Arabic ,
Arabic alphabet and
Arabic Braille Islamic
calligraphy written by a Malay Muslim in Malaysia. The calligrapher is
making a rough draft.
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
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
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
Khalil ibn Ahmad al Farahidi finally fixed the
around 786, many styles were developed, both for the writing down of
Quran and other books, and for inscriptions on monuments as
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
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.
Romanization of Arabic
Examples of different transliteration/transcription schemes
aa / A
j , iː
y; i/ee; ei/ai
d͡ʒ ~ɡ ~ʒ
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
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.
These less "scientific" 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
Arabic speaking users communicated in these technologies by
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
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.
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
Arabic-speaking countries to the east of it, the Eastern Arabic
numerals (٠ – ١ – ٢ – ٣ – ٤ – ٥ –
٦ – ٧ – ٨ – ٩) 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
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"
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. See also:
Arabic Language International Council
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.
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. 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.
ARABIC SPEAKERS AND OTHER LANGUAGES
THIS SECTION NEEDS EXPANSION. You can help by adding to it . (May
Arabic is largely used in educational settings.
Historically, Arab linguists considered the
Arabic language to be
superior to all other languages, and took almost no interest in
learning any language other than Arabic. With the sole example of
Abu Hayyan al-Gharnati - who, while a scholar of the
Arabic language, was not ethnically Arab - scholars of the Arabic
language made no efforts at studying comparative linguistics,
considering all other languages inferior.
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
sometimes paraded as a sign of status, class, and perversely, even
education through a mélange of code-switching practises."
Arab-American professor Franck Salamah went as far as to declare
Arabic a dead language conveying dead ideas, blaming its stagnation
for Arab intellectual stagnation and lamenting that great writers in
Arabic are judged by their command of the language and not the merit
of the ideas they express with it.
AIDA - International Association of Arabic Dialectology
Arabic influence on the Spanish language
Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic _
* Glossary of
List of Arabic neighborhoods
List of arabophones
List of countries where Arabic is an official language
List of French words of Arabic origin
List of Portuguese words of Arabic origin
List of replaced loanwords in Turkish
List of Arabic-language television channels
List of Arab newspapers
* ^ "
Arabic - Ethnologue" . _Ethnologue_. Simons, Gary F. and
Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2017. Ethnologue: Languages of the World,
Twentieth edition. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
* ^ "World
Arabic Language Day". _UNESCO_. 18 December 2014.
Retrieved 12 February 2014.
* ^ Wright (2001 :492)
* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank,
Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Arabic". _
Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History.
* ^ "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of
Arabic and its linguistic
Routledge Handbook of
forthcoming)". Retrieved 2016-10-27.
* ^ "Christianity 2015: Religious Diversity and Personal Contact"
(PDF). gordonconwell.edu. January 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
* ^ "Executive Summary". _Future of the Global Muslim Population_.
Pew Research Center. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
* ^ "Table: Muslim Population by Country Pew Research Center\'s
Religion & Public Life Project". Features.pewforum.org. 2011-01-27.
* ^ "UN official languages". Un.org. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
* ^ "World
Arabic Language Day". _UNESCO_. 18 December 2014.
Retrieved 12 February 2014.
* ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2015-03-27). _An Outline of the Grammar of
Safaitic Inscriptions_. BRILL. ISBN 9789004289826 .
* ^ "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of
Arabic and its linguistic
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* ^ "Middle
Arabic - Brill Reference".
_referenceworks.brillonline.com_. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Polygenesis in the
Arabic Dialects - Brill Reference".
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* ^ Kaye (1991 :?)
* ^ "
Arabic Language." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009.
Retrieved on 29 July 2009.
* ^ Jenkins, Orville Boyd (18 March 2000), _Population Analysis of
* ^ Janet C. E. Watson, The
Phonology and Morphology of Arabic,
Introduction, pg. xix.
Oxford University Press , 2007. ISBN
* ^ Proceedings and Debates of the 107th United States Congress
Congressional Record , pg. 10,462. Washington, D.C.: United States
Government Printing Office , 2002.
* ^ Shalom Staub, Yemenis in New York City: The Folklore of
Ethnicity, pg. 124.
Philadelphia : Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
, 1989. ISBN 978-0-944190-05-0
* ^ Daniel Newman , Arabic-English Thematic Lexicon, pg. 1. London:
Routledge, 2007. ISBN 978-1-134-10392-8
* ^ Rebecca L. Torstrick and Elizabeth Faier,
Culture and Customs
of the Arab Gulf States, pg. 41. Santa Barbara :
ABC-CLIO , 2009. ISBN
Walter J. Ong , Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the
Evolution of Consciousness and Culture, pg. 32. Ithaca : Cornell
University Press , 2012. ISBN 978-0-8014-6630-4
* ^ Clive Holes, Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and
Varieties, pg. 3.
Washington, D.C. :
Georgetown University Press ,
2004. ISBN 978-1-58901-022-2
* ^ Nizar Y. Habash,Introduction to
Arabic Natural Language
Processing, pgs. 1–2. San Rafael : Morgan & Claypool Publishers,
2010. ISBN 978-1-59829-795-9
* ^ Bernard Bate, Tamil Oratory and the Dravidian Aesthetic:
Democratic Practice in South India, pgs. 14–15. New York : Columbia
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* ^ EB staff. "
Maltese language – Britannica Online
Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
* ^ Gregersen (1977 :237)
* ^ See the seminal study by Siegmund Fraenkel, _Die aramäischen
Fremdwörter im Arabischen_, Leiden 1886 (repr. 1962)
* ^ See for instance Wilhelm Eilers, "Iranisches Lehngut im
Arabischen", _Actas IV. Congresso des Estudos Árabes et Islâmicos,
Coimbra, Lisboa_, Leiden 1971, with earlier references.
* ^ _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.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Shrivtiel, p. 188
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Shrivtiel, p. 189
* ^ _A_ _B_ Nicholson, Reynold. _A Literary History of the arabs_.
The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Allen, Roger (2000). _An introduction to Arabic
literature_ (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge : Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN
* ^ _A_ _B_ Cobham, Adonis ; translated from the
Catherine (1990). _An introduction to Arab poetics_ (1st University of
Texas Press ed. ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN
0-292-73859-5 . CS1 maint: Extra text (link )
* ^ "
Arabic – the mother of all languages – Al
Alislam.org. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 4
* ^ Coffman, James (December 1995). "Does the
Encourage Radical Islam?".
Middle East Quarterly. Retrieved 5 December
* ^ Ferguson, Charles (1959), "The
Arabic Koine", _Language_, 35
(4): 616–630, doi :10.2307/410601
* ^ _Arabic, Egyptian Spoken_ (18th ed.).
Ethnologue . 2006.
* ^ Borg and Azzopardi-Alexander _Maltese_ (1997:xiii) "The
immediate source for the
Arabic vernacular spoken in
Malta was Muslim
Sicily, but its ultimate origin appears to have been Tunisia. In fact
Maltese displays some areal traits typical of Maghrebine Arabic,
although during the past eight hundred years of independent evolution
it has drifted apart from Tunisian Arabic".
* ^ Borg and Azzopardi-Alexander _Maltese_ (1997:xiii)
* ^ Lipinski (1997 :124)
* ^ Al-Jallad, 42
* ^ Watson (2002 :5, 15–16)
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Watson (2002 :2)
* ^ Watson (2002 :16)
* ^ Watson (2002 :18)
* ^ Ferguson, Charles (1959), "The
Arabic Koine", _Language_, 35
(4): 630, doi :10.2307/410601
* ^ e.g., Thelwall (2003 :52)
* ^ Watson, Janet (2002). _The
Phonology and Morphology of Arabic_
(PDF). New York:
Oxford University Press. p. 13.
* ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad (2015). _An Outline of the Grammar of the
Safaitic Inscriptions_. BRILL. p. 48.
* ^ Rydin, Karin C. (2005). A reference grammar of Modern Standard
Arabic. New York: Cambridge University Press.
* ^ Hanna & Greis (1972 :2)
* ^ Osborn, J.R. (2009). "Narratives of
Arabic Script: Calligraphic
Design and Modern Spaces". _Design and Culture_. 1 (3).
* ^ 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
* ^ "Reviews of Language Courses". Lang1234. Retrieved 12 September
Kees Versteegh , _The
Arabic Linguistic Tradition_, pg. 106.
Part of Landmarks in Linguistic Thought series, vol. 3. New York :
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* ^ Suleiman, p. 93
* ^ Franck Salamah, Language, Memory, and Identity in the Middle
East: The Case for Lebanon, Introduction, pg. xvi. Lanham : Lexington
Books , 2010. ISBN 978-0-7391-3740-6
* Bateson, Mary Catherine (2003), _
Arabic Language Handbook_,
Georgetown University Press, ISBN 0-87840-386-8
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di Arabo Contemporaneo. Lingua Standard_ (in Italian), Milan: Hoepli,
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d\'un parler arabe périphérique_, Bucharest: Editura Universitatii
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27 September 2007
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Linguistic Approach, from Sounds to Script_, Brill Archive, ISBN
* Haywood; Nahmad (1965), _A new
Arabic grammar_, London: Lund
Humphries, ISBN 0-85331-585-X
* Hetzron, Robert (1997), _The Semitic languages_ (Illustrated ed.),
Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7
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ARABIC EDITION _ of , the free encyclopedia
For a list of words relating to Arabic, see the ARABIC_ category of
Wiktionary , the free dictionary.
Wikiversity has learning resources about ARABIC _
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: ARABIC _
Wikimedia Commons has media related to ARABIC LANGUAGE _.
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for ARABIC _.
* Arabic: a
Category III language Languages which are difficult for
native English speakers.
* Dr. Nizar Habash\'s, Columbia University, Introduction to Arabic
Natural Language Processing
* Google Ta3reeb – Google Transliteration
Arabic language pronunciation applet
* _Alexis Neme (2011), A lexicon of
Arabic verbs constructed on the
basis of Semitic taxonomy and using finite-state transducers_
* _Alexis Neme and Eric Laporte (2013), Pattern-and-root
inflectional morphology: the
Arabic broken plural_
* _Alexis Neme and Eric Laporte (2015), Do computer scientists
Arabic morphology? - هل يفهم
المهندسون الحاسوبيّون علم الصرف فهماً
عميقاً؟_, available also in Arabic, Indonesian, French
* _ Jastrow, Morris (1905). "
Arabic Language and Literature". New
International Encyclopedia _.
Arabic manuscripts, UA 5572 at L. Tom Perry
Brigham Young University Online
* Influence on other languages
Ancient North Arabian
Ancient South Arabian script
* Zabūr script
* Eastern numerals