Tuesday September 15, 2009

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Arabic is a Semitic language with about 221 million speakers in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebannon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Palestinian West Bank & Gaza, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

There are over 30 different varieties of colloquial Arabic which include:

  • Egyptian - spoken by about 46 million people in Egypt and perhaps the most widely understood variety, thanks to the popularity of Egyptian-made films and TV shows

  • Algerian - spoken by about 22 million people in Algeria

  • Moroccan/Maghrebi - spoken in Morocco by about 19.5 million people

  • Sudanese - spoken in Sudan by about 19 million people

  • Saidi - spoken by about 19 million people in Egpyt

  • North Levantine - spoken in Lebanon and Syria by about 15 million people

  • Mesopotamian - spoken by about 14 million people in Iraq, Iran and Syria

  • Najdi - spoken in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria by about 10 million people


Arabic is a language divided into 3 separate groups: Classical written Arabic; written Modern Standard Arabic; and spoken Arabic.
Classical written Arabic is principally defined as the Arabic used in the "Koran" and in the earliest literature from the Arabian peninsula, but also forms the core of much literature up until our time.
Modern Standard Arabic is a modernization of the structures of classical Arabic, and includes words for modern phenomenon as well as a rich addition from the many dialects spoken all over the Arabic world.
Spoken Arabic is a mixed form, which has many variations, and often a dominating influence from local languages (from before the introduction of Arabic). Differences between the various variants of spoken Arabic can be large enough to make them incomprehensible to one another. Hence it could be correct to refer to the different versions as separate languages named according to their areas, like Moroccan, Cairo Arabic, North Syrian Arabic etc.

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