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Arabic

Semitic language

Top 10 Arabic related articles

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Arabic
اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ
al-ʿarabiyyah
Al-ʿArabiyyah in written Arabic (Naskh script)
Pronunciation/ˈʕarabiː/, /alʕaraˈbijːa/
Native toCountries of the Arab League, minorities in neighboring countries and some parts of Asia, Africa, Europe
EthnicityArabs, Arab-Berbers, Afro-Arabs, among others
Native speakers
310 million, all varieties (2011–2016)[1]
270 million L2 speakers of Standard (Modern) Arabic[1]
Early form
Standard forms
Dialects
Arabic Alphabet
Arabic Braille
Arabizi
Signed Arabic (different national forms)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by
List
Language codes
ISO 639-1ar
ISO 639-2ara
ISO 639-3ara – inclusive code
Individual codes:
arq – Algerian Arabic
aao – Algerian Saharan Arabic
xaa – Andalusian Arabic
bbz – Babalia Creole Arabic
abv – Baharna Arabic
shu – Chadian Arabic
acy – Cypriot Arabic
adf – Dhofari Arabic
avl – Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic
arz – Egyptian Arabic
afb – Gulf Arabic
ayh – Hadrami Arabic
acw – Hijazi Arabic
ayl – Libyan Arabic
acm – Mesopotamian Arabic
ary – Moroccan Arabic
ars – Najdi Arabic
apc – North Levantine Arabic
ayp – North Mesopotamian Arabic
acx – Omani Arabic
aec – Saidi Arabic
ayn – Sanaani Arabic
ssh – Shihhi Arabic
sqr – Siculo Arabic
ajp – South Levantine Arabic
arb – Standard Arabic
apd – Sudanese Arabic
pga – Sudanese Creole Arabic
acq – Taizzi-Adeni Arabic
abh – Tajiki Arabic
Glottologarab1395
Linguasphere12-AAC
Dispersion of native Arabic speakers as the majority (dark green) or minority (light green) population
Use of Arabic as the national language (green), as an official language (dark blue) and as a regional/minority language (light blue)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Arabic (اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ, al-ʿarabiyyah, [al ʕaraˈbijːa] ( listen) or عَرَبِيّ‎, ʿarabīy, [ˈʕarabiː] ( listen) or [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.[3] It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world.[4] It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in Northwestern Arabia and in the Sinai Peninsula.[5] The ISO assigns language codes to thirty varieties of Arabic, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic,[6] also referred to as Literary Arabic, which is modernized Classical Arabic. This distinction exists primarily among Western linguists; Arabic speakers themselves generally do not distinguish between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic, but rather refer to both as al-ʿarabiyyatu l-fuṣḥā (اَلعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ[7] "the eloquent Arabic") or simply al-fuṣḥā (اَلْفُصْحَىٰ). Modern Standard Arabic is an official language of 26 states and 1 disputed territory, the third most after English and French.[8]

Arabic is widely taught in schools and universities and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government and the media. Arabic, in its standard form, is the official language of 26 states, as well as the liturgical language of the religion of Islam, since the Quran and Hadith were written in Arabic.

During the Middle Ages, 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, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages—mainly Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Catalan, and Sicilian—owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and the long-lasting Arabic culture and language presence mainly in Southern Iberia during the Al-Andalus era. The Maltese language is a Semitic language developed from a dialect of Arabic and written in the Latin alphabet.[9] The Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have also acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish.

Arabic has influenced many other languages around the globe throughout its history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu),[10] Kashmiri, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Maldivian, Pashto, Punjabi, Albanian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Sicilian, Spanish, Greek, Bulgarian, Tagalog, Sindhi, Odia[11] and Hausa and some languages in parts of Africa. Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Persian in medieval times and languages such as English and French in modern times.

Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.8 billion Muslims, and Arabic[12] is one of six official languages of the United Nations.[13][14][15][16] All varieties of Arabic combined are spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world,[17] 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 the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left to right with no standardized orthography.

Arabic Intro articles: 52

Classification

Arabic is usually, but not universally, classified as a Central Semitic language. It is related to languages in other subgroups of the Semitic language group (Northwest Semitic, South Semitic, East Semitic, West Semitic), such as Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Canaanite, Amorite, Ammonite, Eblaite, epigraphic Ancient North Arabian, epigraphic Ancient South Arabian, Ethiopic, Modern South Arabian, and numerous other dead and modern languages. Linguists still differ as to the best classification of Semitic language sub-groups.[3] The Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the emergence of the Central Semitic languages, particularly in grammar. Innovations of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include:

  1. The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation (jalas-) into a past tense.
  2. The conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation (yajlis-) into a present tense.
  3. The elimination of other prefix-conjugated mood/aspect forms (e.g., a present tense formed by doubling the middle root, a perfect formed by infixing a /t/ after the first root consonant, probably a jussive formed by a stress shift) in favor of new moods formed by endings attached to the prefix-conjugation forms (e.g., -u for indicative, -a for subjunctive, no ending for jussive, -an or -anna for energetic).
  4. The development of an internal passive.

There are several features which Classical Arabic, the modern Arabic varieties, as well as the Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions share which are unattested in any other Central Semitic language variety, including the Dadanitic and Taymanitic languages of the northern Hejaz. These features are evidence of common descent from a hypothetical ancestor, Proto-Arabic. The following features can be reconstructed with confidence for Proto-Arabic:[18]

  1. negative particles m * /mā/; lʾn */lā-ʾan/ to Classical Arabic lan
  2. mafʿūl G-passive participle
  3. prepositions and adverbs f, ʿn, ʿnd, ḥt, ʿkdy
  4. a subjunctive in -a
  5. t-demonstratives
  6. leveling of the -at allomorph of the feminine ending
  7. ʾn complementizer and subordinator
  8. the use of f- to introduce modal clauses
  9. independent object pronoun in (ʾ)y
  10. vestiges of nunation

Arabic Classification articles: 27

History

Old Arabic

Safaitic inscription

Arabia boasted a wide variety of Semitic languages in antiquity. In the southwest, various Central Semitic languages both belonging to and outside of the Ancient South Arabian family (e.g. Southern Thamudic) were spoken. It is also believed that the ancestors of the Modern South Arabian languages (non-Central Semitic languages) were also spoken in southern Arabia at this time. To the north, in the oases of northern Hejaz, Dadanitic and Taymanitic held some prestige as inscriptional languages. In Najd and parts of western Arabia, a language known to scholars as Thamudic C is attested. In eastern Arabia, inscriptions in a script derived from ASA attest to a language known as Hasaitic. Finally, on the northwestern frontier of Arabia, various languages known to scholars as Thamudic B, Thamudic D, Safaitic, and Hismaic are attested. The last two share important isoglosses with later forms of Arabic, leading scholars to theorize that Safaitic and Hismaic are in fact early forms of Arabic and that they should be considered Old Arabic.[19]

Linguists generally believe that "Old Arabic" (a collection of related dialects that constitute the precursor of Arabic) first emerged around the 1st century CE. Previously, the earliest attestation of Old Arabic was thought to be a single 1st century CE inscription in Sabaic script at Qaryat Al-Faw, in southern present-day Saudi Arabia. However, this inscription does not participate in several of the key innovations of the Arabic language group, such as the conversion of Semitic mimation to nunation in the singular. It is best reassessed as a separate language on the Central Semitic dialect continuum.[20]

It was also thought that Old Arabic coexisted alongside—and then gradually displaced--epigraphic Ancient North Arabian (ANA), which was theorized to have been the regional tongue for many centuries. ANA, despite its name, was considered a very distinct language, and mutually unintelligible, from "Arabic". Scholars named its variant dialects after the towns where the inscriptions were discovered (Dadanitic, Taymanitic, Hismaic, Safaitic).[3] However, most arguments for a single ANA language or language family were based on the shape of the definite article, a prefixed h-. It has been argued that the h- is an archaism and not a shared innovation, and thus unsuitable for language classification, rendering the hypothesis of an ANA language family untenable.[21] Safaitic and Hismaic, previously considered ANA, should be considered Old Arabic due to the fact that they participate in the innovations common to all forms of Arabic.[19]

The earliest attestation of continuous Arabic text in an ancestor of the modern Arabic script are three lines of poetry by a man named Garm(')allāhe found in En Avdat, Israel, and dated to around 125 CE.[22] This is followed by the epitaph of the Lakhmid king Mar 'al-Qays bar 'Amro, dating to 328 CE, found at Namaraa, Syria. From the 4th to the 6th centuries, the Nabataean script evolves into the Arabic script recognizable from the early Islamic era.[23] There are inscriptions in an undotted, 17-letter Arabic script dating to the 6th century CE, found at four locations in Syria (Zabad, Jabal 'Usays, Harran, Umm al-Jimaal). The oldest surviving papyrus in Arabic dates to 643 CE, and it uses dots to produce the modern 28-letter Arabic alphabet. The language of that papyrus and of the Qur'an are referred to by linguists as "Quranic Arabic", as distinct from its codification soon thereafter into "Classical Arabic".[3]

Old Hejazi and Classical Arabic

Arabic from the Quran in the old Hijazi dialect (Hijazi script, 7th century AD)

In late pre-Islamic times, a transdialectal and transcommunal variety of Arabic emerged in the Hejaz which continued living its parallel life after literary Arabic had been institutionally standardized in the 2nd and 3rd century of the Hijra, most strongly in Judeo-Christian texts, keeping alive ancient features eliminated from the "learned" tradition (Classical Arabic).[24] This variety and both its classicizing and "lay" iterations have been termed Middle Arabic in the past, but they are thought to continue an Old Higazi register. It is clear that the orthography of the Qur'an was not developed for the standardized form of Classical Arabic; rather, it shows the attempt on the part of writers to record an archaic form of Old Higazi.

The Qur'an has served and continues to serve as a fundamental reference for Arabic. (Maghrebi Kufic script, Blue Qur'an, 9th-10th century)

In the late 6th century AD, a relatively uniform intertribal "poetic koine" distinct from the spoken vernaculars developed based on the Bedouin dialects of Najd, probably in connection with the court of al-Ḥīra. During the first Islamic century, the majority of Arabic poets and Arabic-writing persons spoke Arabic as their mother tongue. Their texts, although mainly preserved in far later manuscripts, contain traces of non-standardized Classical Arabic elements in morphology and syntax. The standardization of Classical Arabic reached completion around the end of the 8th century. The first comprehensive description of the ʿarabiyya "Arabic", Sībawayhi's al-Kitāb, is based first of all upon a corpus of poetic texts, in addition to Qur'an usage and Bedouin informants whom he considered to be reliable speakers of the ʿarabiyya.[25] By the 8th century, knowledge of Classical Arabic had become an essential prerequisite for rising into the higher classes throughout the Islamic world.

Neo-Arabic

Charles Ferguson's koine theory (Ferguson 1959) claims that the modern Arabic dialects collectively descend from a single military koine that sprang up during the Islamic conquests; this view has been challenged in recent times. Ahmad al-Jallad proposes that there were at least two considerably distinct types of Arabic on the eve of the conquests: Northern and Central (Al-Jallad 2009). The modern dialects emerged from a new contact situation produced following the conquests. Instead of the emergence of a single or multiple koines, the dialects contain several sedimentary layers of borrowed and areal features, which they absorbed at different points in their linguistic histories.[25] According to Veersteegh and Bickerton, colloquial Arabic dialects arose from pidginized Arabic formed from contact between Arabs and conquered peoples. Pidginization and subsequent creolization among Arabs and arabized peoples could explain relative morphological and phonological simplicity of vernacular Arabic compared to Classical and MSA.[26][27]

In around the 11th and 12th centuries in al-Andalus, the zajal and muwashah poetry forms developed in the dialectical Arabic of Cordoba and the Maghreb.[28]

Nahda

Taha Hussein and Gamal Abdel Nasser were both staunch defenders of Standard Arabic.[29][30]

In the wake of the industrial revolution and European hegemony and colonialism, pioneering Arabic presses, such as the Amiri Press established by Muhammad Ali (1819), dramatically changed the diffusion and consumption of Arabic literature and publications.[31]

The Nahda cultural renaissance saw the creation of a number of Arabic academies modeled after the Académie française, starting with the Arab Academy of Damascus (1918), which aimed to develop the Arabic lexicon to suit these transformations.[32] This gave rise to what Western scholars call Modern Standard Arabic.

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Arabic Swadesh list (1-100).

Arabic History articles: 46

Classical, Modern Standard and spoken Arabic

Flag of the Arab League, used in some cases for the Arabic language
Flag used in some cases for the Arabic language (Flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz 1916–1925).The flag contains the four Pan-Arab colors: black, white, green and red.

Arabic usually refers to Standard Arabic, which Western linguists divide into Classical Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic.[33] It could also refer to any of a variety of regional vernacular Arabic dialects, which are not necessarily mutually intelligible.

Classical Arabic is the language found in the Quran, used from the period of Pre-Islamic Arabia to that of the Abbasid Caliphate. Classical Arabic is prescriptive, according to the syntactic and grammatical norms laid down by classical grammarians (such as Sibawayh) and the vocabulary defined in classical dictionaries (such as the Lisān al-ʻArab).

Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic and uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties and has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties. Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the industrial and post-industrial era, especially in modern times. Due to its grounding in Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic is removed over a millennium from everyday speech, which is construed as a multitude of dialects of this language. These dialects and Modern Standard Arabic are described by some scholars as not mutually comprehensible. The former are usually acquired in families, while the latter is taught in formal education settings. However, there have been studies reporting some degree of comprehension of stories told in the standard variety among preschool-aged children.[34] The relation between Modern Standard Arabic and these dialects is sometimes compared to that of Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin vernaculars (which became Romance languages) in medieval and early modern Europe.[35] This view though does not take into account the widespread use of Modern Standard Arabic as a medium of audiovisual communication in today's mass media—a function Latin has never performed.

MSA is the variety used in most current, printed Arabic publications, spoken by some of the Arabic media across North Africa and the Middle East, and understood by most educated Arabic speakers. "Literary Arabic" and "Standard Arabic" (فُصْحَىfuṣḥá) are less strictly defined terms that may refer to Modern Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic.

Some of the differences between Classical Arabic (CA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) are as follows:

  • Certain grammatical constructions of CA that have no counterpart in any modern vernacular dialect (e.g., the energetic mood) are almost never used in Modern Standard Arabic.
  • Case distinctions are very rare in Arabic vernaculars. As a result, MSA is generally composed without case distinctions in mind, and the proper cases are added after the fact, when necessary. Because most case endings are noted using final short vowels, which are normally left unwritten in the Arabic script, it is unnecessary to determine the proper case of most words. The practical result of this is that MSA, like English and Standard Chinese, is written in a strongly determined word order and alternative orders that were used in CA for emphasis are rare. In addition, because of the lack of case marking in the spoken varieties, most speakers cannot consistently use the correct endings in extemporaneous speech. As a result, spoken MSA tends to drop or regularize the endings except when reading from a prepared text.
  • The numeral system in CA is complex and heavily tied in with the case system. This system is never used in MSA, even in the most formal of circumstances; instead, a significantly simplified system is used, approximating the system of the conservative spoken varieties.

MSA uses much Classical vocabulary (e.g., dhahaba 'to go') that is not present in the spoken varieties, but deletes Classical words that sound obsolete in MSA. In addition, MSA has borrowed or coined many terms for concepts that did not exist in Quranic times, and MSA continues to evolve.[36] Some words have been borrowed from other languages—notice that transliteration mainly indicates spelling and not real pronunciation (e.g., فِلْمfilm 'film' or ديمقراطيةdīmuqrāṭiyyah 'democracy').

However, the current preference is to avoid direct borrowings, preferring to either use loan translations (e.g., فرعfarʻ 'branch', also used for the branch of a company or organization; جناحjanāḥ 'wing', is also used for the wing of an airplane, building, air force, etc.), or to coin new words using forms within existing roots (استماتةistimātah 'apoptosis', using the root موتm/w/t 'death' put into the Xth form, or جامعةjāmiʻah 'university', based on جمعjamaʻa 'to gather, unite'; جمهوريةjumhūriyyah 'republic', based on جمهورjumhūr 'multitude'). An earlier tendency was to redefine an older word although this has fallen into disuse (e.g., هاتفhātif 'telephone' < 'invisible caller (in Sufism)'; جريدةjarīdah 'newspaper' < 'palm-leaf stalk').

Colloquial or dialectal Arabic refers to the many national or regional varieties which constitute the everyday spoken language and evolved from Classical Arabic. Colloquial Arabic has many regional variants; geographically distant varieties usually differ enough to be mutually unintelligible, and some linguists consider them distinct languages.[37] However, research indicates a high degree of mutual intelligibility between closely related Arabic variants for native speakers listening to words, sentences, and texts; and between more distantly related dialects in interactional situations.[38]

The varieties are typically unwritten. They are often used in informal spoken media, such as soap operas and talk shows,[39] as well as occasionally in certain forms of written media such as poetry and printed advertising.

The only variety of modern Arabic to have acquired official language status is Maltese, which is spoken in (predominantly Catholic) Malta and written with the Latin script. It is descended from Classical Arabic through Siculo-Arabic, but is not mutually intelligible with any other variety of Arabic. Most linguists list it as a separate language rather than as a dialect of Arabic.

Even during Muhammad's lifetime, there were dialects of spoken Arabic. Muhammad spoke in the dialect of Mecca, in the western Arabian peninsula, and it was in this dialect that the Quran was written down. However, the dialects of the eastern Arabian peninsula were considered the most prestigious at the time, so the language of the Quran was ultimately converted to follow the eastern phonology. It is this phonology that underlies the modern pronunciation of Classical Arabic. The phonological differences between these two dialects account for some of the complexities of Arabic writing, most notably the writing of the glottal stop or hamzah (which was preserved in the eastern dialects but lost in western speech) and the use of alif maqṣūrah (representing a sound preserved in the western dialects but merged with ā in eastern speech).

Arabic Classical, Modern Standard and spoken Arabic articles: 25

Language and dialect

The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia, which is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language, usually in different social situations. Tawleed is the process of giving a new shade of meaning to an old classical word. For example, al-hatif lexicographically, means the one whose sound is heard but whose person remains unseen. Now the term al-hatif is used for a telephone. Therefore, the process of tawleed can express the needs of modern civilization in a manner that would appear to be originally Arabic.[40] In the case of Arabic, educated Arabs of any nationality can be assumed to speak both their school-taught Standard Arabic as well as their native, mutually unintelligible "dialects";[41][42][43][44][45] these dialects linguistically constitute separate languages which may have dialects of their own.[46] When educated Arabs of different dialects engage in conversation (for example, a Moroccan speaking with a Lebanese), many speakers code-switch back and forth between the dialectal and standard varieties of the language, sometimes even within the same sentence. Arabic speakers often improve their familiarity with other dialects via music or film.

The issue of whether Arabic is one language or many languages is politically charged, in the same way it is for the varieties of Chinese, Hindi and Urdu, Serbian and Croatian, Scots and English, etc. In contrast to speakers of Hindi and Urdu who claim they cannot understand each other even when they can, speakers of the varieties of Arabic will claim they can all understand each other even when they cannot.[47] The issue of diglossia between spoken and written language is a significant complicating factor: A single written form, significantly different from any of the spoken varieties learned natively, unites a number of sometimes divergent spoken forms. For political reasons, Arabs mostly assert that they all speak a single language, despite significant issues of mutual incomprehensibility among differing spoken versions.[48]

From a linguistic standpoint, it is often said that the various spoken varieties of Arabic differ among each other collectively about as much as the Romance languages.[49] This is an apt comparison in a number of ways. The period of divergence from a single spoken form is similar—perhaps 1500 years for Arabic, 2000 years for the Romance languages. Also, while it is comprehensible to people from the Maghreb, a linguistically innovative variety such as Moroccan Arabic is essentially incomprehensible to Arabs from the Mashriq, much as French is incomprehensible to Spanish or Italian speakers but relatively easily learned by them. This suggests that the spoken varieties may linguistically be considered separate languages.

Arabic Language and dialect articles: 11

Influence of Arabic on other languages

The influence of Arabic has been most important in Islamic countries, because it is the language of the Islamic sacred book, the Quran. Arabic is also an important source of vocabulary for languages such as Amharic, Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bengali, Berber, Bosnian, Chaldean, Chechen, Chittagonian, Croatian, Dagestani, English, German, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Kazakh, Kurdish, Kutchi, Kyrgyz, Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romance languages (French, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Spanish, etc.) Saraiki, Sindhi, Somali, Sylheti, Swahili, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek, Visayan and Wolof, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken.[50]

The Education Minister of France has recently been emphasizing the learning and usage of Arabic in their schools.[51]

In addition, English has many Arabic loanwords, some directly, but most via other Mediterranean languages. Examples of such words include admiral, adobe, alchemy, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, alkaline, almanac, amber, arsenal, assassin, candy, carat, cipher, coffee, cotton, ghoul, hazard, jar, kismet, lemon, loofah, magazine, mattress, sherbet, sofa, sumac, tariff, and zenith.[52] Other languages such as Maltese[53] and Kinubi derive ultimately from Arabic, rather than merely borrowing vocabulary or grammatical rules.

Terms borrowed range from religious terminology (like Berber taẓallit, "prayer", from salat (صلاةṣalāh)), academic terms (like Uyghur mentiq, "logic"), and economic items (like English coffee) to placeholders (like Spanish fulano, "so-and-so"), everyday terms (like Hindustani lekin, "but", or Spanish taza and French tasse, meaning "cup"), and expressions (like Catalan a betzef, "galore, in quantity"). Most Berber varieties (such as Kabyle), along with Swahili, borrow some numbers from Arabic. Most Islamic religious terms are direct borrowings from Arabic, such as صلاة‎ (salat), "prayer", and إمام‎ (imam), "prayer leader."

In languages not directly in contact with the Arab world, Arabic loanwords are often transferred indirectly via other languages rather than being transferred directly from Arabic. For example, most Arabic loanwords in Hindustani and Turkish entered though Persian is an Indo-Iranian language. Older Arabic loanwords in Hausa were borrowed from Kanuri.

Arabic words also made their way into several West African languages as Islam spread across the Sahara. Variants of Arabic words such as كتابkitāb ("book") have spread to the languages of African groups who had no direct contact with Arab traders.[54]

Since throughout the Islamic world, Arabic occupied a position similar to that of Latin in Europe, many of the Arabic concepts in the fields of science, philosophy, commerce, etc. were coined from Arabic roots by non-native Arabic speakers, notably by Aramaic and Persian translators, and then found their way into other languages. This process of using Arabic roots, especially in Kurdish and Persian, to translate foreign concepts continued through to the 18th and 19th centuries, when swaths of Arab-inhabited lands were under Ottoman rule.

Arabic Influence of Arabic on other languages articles: 35

Influence of other languages on Arabic

The most important sources of borrowings into (pre-Islamic) Arabic are from the related (Semitic) languages Aramaic,[55] which used to be the principal, international language of communication throughout the ancient Near and Middle East, and Ethiopic. In addition, many cultural, religious and political terms have entered Arabic from Iranian languages, notably Middle Persian, Parthian, and (Classical) Persian,[56] and Hellenistic Greek (kīmiyāʼ has as origin the Greek khymia, meaning in that language the melting of metals; see Roger Dachez, Histoire de la Médecine de l'Antiquité au XXe siècle, Tallandier, 2008, p. 251), alembic (distiller) from ambix (cup), almanac (climate) from almenichiakon (calendar). (For the origin of the last three borrowed words, see Alfred-Louis de Prémare, Foundations of Islam, Seuil, L'Univers Historique, 2002.) Some Arabic borrowings from Semitic or Persian languages are, as presented in De Prémare's above-cited book:

  • madīnah/medina (مدينة, city or city square), a word of Aramaic origin (in which it means "a state")
  • jazīrah (جزيرة), as in the well-known form الجزيرة "Al-Jazeera," means "island" and has its origin in the Syriac ܓܙܝܪܗ gazīra.
  • lāzaward (لازورد) is taken from Persian لاژورد lājvard, the name of a blue stone, lapis lazuli. This word was borrowed in several European languages to mean (light) blue – azure in English, azur in French and azul in Portuguese and Spanish.

A comprehensive overview of the influence of other languages on Arabic is found in Lucas & Manfredi (2020).[50]

Arabic Influence of other languages on Arabic articles: 6

Arabic alphabet and nationalism

There have been many instances of national movements to convert Arabic script into Latin script or to Romanize the language. Currently, the only language derived from Classical Arabic to use Latin script is Maltese.

Lebanon

The Beirut newspaper La Syrie pushed for the change from Arabic script to Latin letters in 1922. The major head of this movement was Louis Massignon, a French Orientalist, who brought his concern before the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus in 1928. Massignon's attempt at Romanization failed as the Academy and population viewed the proposal as an attempt from the Western world to take over their country. Sa'id Afghani, a member of the Academy, mentioned that the movement to Romanize the script was a Zionist plan to dominate Lebanon.[57][58]

Egypt

After the period of colonialism in Egypt, Egyptians were looking for a way to reclaim and re-emphasize Egyptian culture. As a result, some Egyptians pushed for an Egyptianization of the Arabic language in which the formal Arabic and the colloquial Arabic would be combined into one language and the Latin alphabet would be used.[57][58] There was also the idea of finding a way to use Hieroglyphics instead of the Latin alphabet, but this was seen as too complicated to use.[57][58] A scholar, Salama Musa agreed with the idea of applying a Latin alphabet to Arabic, as he believed that would allow Egypt to have a closer relationship with the West. He also believed that Latin script was key to the success of Egypt as it would allow for more advances in science and technology. This change in alphabet, he believed, would solve the problems inherent with Arabic, such as a lack of written vowels and difficulties writing foreign words that made it difficult for non-native speakers to learn.[57][58] Ahmad Lutfi As Sayid and Muhammad Azmi, two Egyptian intellectuals, agreed with Musa and supported the push for Romanization.[57][59] The idea that Romanization was necessary for modernization and growth in Egypt continued with Abd Al-Aziz Fahmi in 1944. He was the chairman for the Writing and Grammar Committee for the Arabic Language Academy of Cairo.[57][59] However, this effort failed as the Egyptian people felt a strong cultural tie to the Arabic alphabet.[57][59] In particular, the older Egyptian generations believed that the Arabic alphabet had strong connections to Arab values and history, due to the long history of the Arabic alphabet (Shrivtiel, 189) in Muslim societies.

Arabic Arabic alphabet and nationalism articles: 5