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Learn more about the Arabic language
Arabic belongs to the southern group of Western Semitic languages. It is based on dialects of North Arabia and spread with Islam in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Arabic script evolved from the Nabataean alphabet used in Aramaic. It has been used since the 4th century AD. , but the oldest document, an inscription in Arabic, Syrian and Greek, dates from 512 A.D.
Aramaic has fewer consonants than Arabic, so during the 7th century new Arabic letters were created by adding dots to the existing ones to avoid ambiguity. More diacritical signs were introduced to indicate short vowels, but these are usually only used to ensure that the Koran is read aloud without mistakes.
There are two types of written Arabic:
- Classical Arabic: the language of the Koran and classical literature It differs from modern standard Arabic mainly in style and vocabulary, with archaic words. All Muslims are expected to recite the Koran in the original language, however many rely on translations to understand the text.
- Modern Standard Arabic (اللغة العربية الفصحى / al-luġatu l-ʿarabiyyatu l-fuṣḥā): the universal language of the Arabic-speaking world understood by all Arabic speakers. It is the language of almost all written and television publications and academic activities.
Each Arabic-speaking country or region also has its own variety of colloquial Arabic. These colloquial varieties of Arabic appear in written form in some poems, caricatures and comics, plays and personal letters. There are also translations of the Bible into most variants of colloquial Arabic.