The Arabic Language


Faizan Afroz, Contributor

The language of the Quran is Arabic. The 5th most natively spoken language in the world. In our own FDR community, Arabs make up a sizable minority. Have you ever wanted to learn more about their language?

Arabic is a language predominantly spoken in the Middle East and North African regions of the world, encompassing countries including Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. 

Arabic dialects or languages?

When the Arabs conquered territory in the Middle East and North Africa, most of the native people were Arabized; assimilating into Arab culture and language. However, they left a trace of their original languages in their Arabic dialects. Levantine Arabic having Aramaic influence, Egyptian Arabic having Coptic influence, Maghrebi Arabic having Amazigh influence. With these influences, the language can differ greatly from region to region. A Moroccan Arabic speaker will have a hard time communicating with an Iraqi Arabic speaker. With this in mind, how do Arabs from different regions communicate?

The differences between two Arabic dialects aren’t as simple as British and American English, rather as complex as Spanish and Italian. Despite these differences, it is Modern Standard Arabic which keeps Arabic dialects from diverting too far away from each other; Standard Arabic is based on Quranic Arabic, it is learned by all Arabs in school and is used for communication when there is a dialect gap between Arabs.

Influences of Arabic on English and Spanish

You use Arabic in your everyday life! Ranging from simple words like sugar, cotton, cable, jar to words like alchemy, algebra and cypher.

Next time you’re in Spanish class, keep in mind that Spanish vocabulary was greatly influenced by Arabic due to Arab rule of the Iberian peninsula until 1492. With around 4000 words of Arabic origin in the language! Words like “barrio” (neighborhood), “almohada” (pillow), “taza” (cup) are all from Arabic!

Which type of Arabic should one learn?

It is generally recommended to learn Modern Standard Arabic, due to a high amount of resources and since it’s understood in all of the Arab world. Furthermore, a person who learns Standard Arabic can move on to a dialect with ease, since dialects root from standard Arabic.