Which family does it belong to?
العربية al-'arabiyyah or عربي 'arabī belongs to the Arab-Canaanite sub-branch of the central group of the Western Semitic languages. It is not the oldest among the Semitic languages. The Arabic alphabet derives from the Aramaic script (which variety, Nabataean or Syriac, is still unclear), to which it bears a loose resemblance like that of Coptic or Cyrillic script to Greek script.
Who speaks Arabic?
Arabic is spoken in 22 countries by a majority, and in many other countries as a minority language, across North Africa and the Middle East (from Morocco to Iraq). Total speakers are more than 280 million, but Arabic continues to flourish due to its being inextricably linked with the rise of Islam and, more specifically, Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an. There are three distinct forms of Arabic: Classical or Qur’anical Arabic, Formal or Modern Standard Arabic and Spoken or Colloquial Arabic.
Classical Arabic is the form of Arabic found in the Qur’an. It is used neither in conversation, nor in non-religious writing. Modern Standard Arabic provides a universal form of the language that can be understood by all and is commonly used in radio and TV news broadcasts, films, plays, poetry, and conversation between Arabic-speaking people of different dialects. Modern Standard Arabic is the definitive form of written Arabic, while there are many Arabic dialects which are generally only spoken languages. Standard Arabic is more or less the same throughout the Arab World, while there are wide differences between the various colloquial dialects. Some of the differences are so relevant that many dialects are mutually unintelligible. One on-going trend in Modern Standard Arabic is modernization which involves the creation of new terms for concepts which didn’t exist in earlier times.
Where does Arabic come from?
While the first record of written Arabic dates from the early 4th century AD, its use in the early 7th century as the language of the Qur’an led Arabic to become the major world language that it is today. Coupled with the rise of Islam, Arabic became the language of government as well as religion. Within 100 years after the introduction of the Qur’an, Arabic had already become the official language of a world empire whose boundaries stretched from the Oxus River in Central Asia to the Atlantic Ocean, and even northward into the Iberian Peninsula of Europe.
Which languages are influenced by Arabic?
The presence of Islam in the Iberian Peninsula between 711 and 1492 AD is the reason why the Arabic language has a strong influence on the vocabulary of languages such as English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, among others. Many words with Arabic origin are recognisable by the prefix al. In Portuguese, some examples are: aldeia (village), alface (lettuce) and the Algarve. English examples include algebra, alchemy and alcohol.
What are the main linguistic features of Arabic?
There are two types of Arabic sentences:
1.- Verbal sentence: the sentence starts with the verb and the subject follows. The verb is in the singular form even when the subject is dual or plural.
2.- Nominal sentence: the sentence starts with the noun or subject and the other constituents follow. The verb agrees with the subject in number and gender.