An Arabic language overview – Fun facts

Published 16th August 2012
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Ever wanted to know more about the Arabic language?

With over 250 million native speakers in the world, it is the sixth most spoken language in the world and one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Where is Arabic spoken?
It is an official language in 21 countries stretching from Southwest Asia to Northwest Africa.

There are two main forms of Arabic

  • Formal or classical Arabic is the language written in the Qur’an and the form which is taught in schools, although today it is written more than spoken.
  • Modern standard Arabic is much more commonly used and is understood across the Arab world.

As with other languages which are spoken across many countries, Arabic has many different dialects, although Modern standard Arabic is understood throughout. The most widely spoken dialect is Egyptian Arabic.

Written Arabic 

  • The language is written and read from right to left, meaning that books and documents are read from back to front. Numbers,arabic-alphabet-150x150
    however, are written from left to right.
  • Arabic script is the second most widely used writing system in the word and words are always written with joined up letters.
  • There are 28 basic letters in the Arabic alphabet. Other languages which use the same alphabet include Farsi, Urdu, Pashto and Kurdish.
  • Arabic was originally written without dots above or below letters. The dots have been introduced more recently.

Is Arabic a difficult language to learn?

  • It does have a different root system to many European languages. Words are constructed from a three letter ‘root’ which conveys an idea. Letters are then added in and around this ‘root’ to create words. This makes Arabic a vocabulary rich language.
  • There are very few words which resemble English words, so learning vocabulary can be difficult. However once a few ‘roots’ have been learned vocabulary can get easier.

So what about the culture…

Did you know…?

  • The one piece garment traditionally worn by Arab men is called the ‘disdasha’ and the head cover is known as the ghutra or eid-celebration-150x150
  • Arab women traditionally wear a long black dress known as an ‘abaya’ with a headscarf called a ‘hijab’
  • Eid is the biggest celebration in Arabic culture
  • Arabic art and handicrafts are world famous
  • There is a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab world called the Pan Arab Games
  • Poetry is the earliest form of Arabic literature

Click here for more information about our Arabic language translation services



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