About Arabic

Arabic is a language belonging to the Semitic language group, which includes Hebrew and the Neo-Aramaic languages. Spoken Arabic varieties all together have more speakers than any other group in the Semitic language family. They are spoken by more than 280 million people as a first language, most of whom live in the Middle East and North Africa. A standardised form based on Koranic Arabic which is Modern Standard Arabic, (also called Literary Arabic), is widely taught in schools, universities, and used to varying degrees in workplaces, government and the media. Literary Arabic is the official language of 26 states, and the liturgical language of Islam since it is the language of the Qur'an, the Islamic Holy Book. Arabic has many different, geographically distributed spoken varieties, some of which are mutually unintelligible.

Arabic has lent many words to other languages of the Islamic world, like Malay, Turkish, Urdu, Hausa, Hindi and Persian. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence is seen in Mediterranean languages, particularly Spanish, Portuguese, and Sicilian, owing to both the proximity of European and Arab civilisations and 700 years of Arab rule in some parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Arabic has also borrowed words from many languages, including Hebrew, Greek, Persian and Syriac in early centuries, Turkish in medieval times and contemporary European languages in modern times. Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script, and is written from right-to-left.

Whilst I do not speak the language nor understand it, I have always been fascinated by Arabic. I have watched many Middle Eastern films (mostly centered around Palestine) and enjoy the way the language sounds. I also love the look of Arabic calligraphy - I think it is beautiful. There are only a couple of words that I recognise in Arabic, such as shukran, for thank you, and of course, habibi for darling or love, but I don't think that matters or deters from my appreciation of the language. I find it fascinating that there are so many different varieties - Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria etc), Gulf Arabic (Qatar, Bahrain etc), Maghrebi Arabic (Tunisia, Morocco, Libya etc), and many more. I am almost jealous of people who know and understand it, but it's a bit too complicated for me to learn I'm afraid ;)

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