Arabic Info Card
Arabic is spoken in Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and worldwide by immigrants. Arabic belongs to the Afroasiatic family. The Modern Standard Arabic is the only official form of Arabic. It is used in most written documents as well as in formal spoken occasions, such as lectures and news broadcasts. Arabic is closely related to Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Phoenician.
Arabic is perhaps spoken by as many as 420 million speakers (native) in the Arab world, making it one of the six most-spoken languages in the world. Arabic also is a religious language of 1.6 billion Muslims. It is one of six official languages of the United Nations.
Arabic contains 28 letters and uses the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right-to-left. However Arabic is sometimes written in Latin letters from left-to-right when a person does not have access to an Arabic keyboard or when a system does not support Arabic characters. This process is called romanization and lacks any standardized forms, but can be useful in teaching students who cannot yet read Arabic.
The modern written language (Modern Standard Arabic) is derived from the language of the Quran. It is widely taught in schools and universities, and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government, and the media. MSA is the official language of 26 states and the liturgical language of Islam.
Colloquial or Arabic dialect refers to varieties which constitute the everyday spoken language. Colloquial Arabic has many variants depending on countries and are typically unwritten.
Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history such as Urdu, Persian, Kurdish, Somali, Swahili, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Indonesian, Tigrinya, Pashto, Punjabi, Tagalog, Sindhi and Hausa. 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. Many words of Arabic origin are also found in ancient languages like Latin and Greek. Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in Romance languages, particularly Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Sicilian, owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus.
Here is a example of some of the popular words derived from Arabic used in English: admiral, alchemy, chemistry, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, artichoke, average, candy, cipher, decipher, coffee, café, cotton, elixir, jar, jasmine, guitar, lemon, magazine, mattress, massage, orange, saffron, sofa, spinach, sugar, syrup, soda, tariff, tuna, zenith, zero ... etc.
Arabic has also borrowed words from many languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Persian and Syriac in early centuries, Kurdish in medieval times and contemporary European languages in modern times, mostly English and French.