The Arabic Language

  • The term Arabic (العَرَبِيَّة‎) describes a Central Semitic language collective made up of 30 modern varieties spoken mainly across North Africa and most of the Middle East. All varieties of Arabic combined are spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million native and non-native speakers, 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 some spoken varieties may be written in Latin script from left to right with no standardized orthography.

    Today, Modern Standard Arabic follows most grammatical standards of Classical Arabic and uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has dropped some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that are no longer used in the spoken varieties, and has adopted new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties.

    Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Spanish, Urdu, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Maldivian, Indonesian, Pashto, Punjabi, Tagalog, Sindhi, and Hausa, and some languages in parts of Africa. Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Greek and Persian in medieval times, and contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.