Arabic is a Semitic language whose dialects are spoken throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Though Arabic words and proper names are found in Aramaic inscriptions, abundant documentation of the language begins only with the rise of Islam, whose main texts are written in Arabic. Grammarians from the 8th century on codified it into the form known as Classical Arabic, a literary and scribal argot that differed markedly from the spoken vernacular. In the 19th – 20th centuries, expansion of Classical Arabic's stylistic range and vocabulary led to the creation of Modern Standard Arabic, which serves as a lingua franca among contemporary Arabs. However, Arabic speakers, who number roughly 200 million, use an enormous range of dialects, which at their furthest extremes are mutually unintelligible. Classical Arabic remains an important cultural and religious artifact among the non-Arab Islamic community.

Dialects Edit

There are over 30 different varieties of colloquial Arabic which include:

  • Egyptian - spoken by about 50 million people in Egypt and perhaps the most widely understood variety, thanks to the popularity of Egyptian-made films and TV shows
  • Algerian - spoken by about 22 million people in Algeria
  • Moroccan/Maghrebi - spoken in Morocco by about 19.5 million people
  • Sudanese - spoken in Sudan by about 19 million people
  • Saidi - spoken by about 19 million people in Egypt
  • North Levantine - spoken in Lebanon and Syria by about 15 million people
  • Mesopotamian - spoken by about 14 million people in Iraq, Iran and Syria
  • Najdi - spoken in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria by about 10 million people
  • Hatawi - spoken in the Republic of Hatay by about 90,000