History of the Arabic Language
Arabic is now the 6th most spoken language in the world and is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. Arabic started off as a language that was only spoken by a small population. Nomadic tribes would travel around the Arabian Peninsula and speak Arabic, a language they were very proud of. Prose, poetry and oral literature were common ways to communicate through Arabic in those times.
Arabic is a “Semitic,” language and is most closely related to Aramaic and Hebrew. Other Semitic languages include Maltese, Mehri, Phoenician and Tigrinya. Semitic languages are based on a consonantal root system. Every word in Arabic is derived from one or another root word (most likely a verb).
By the 7th Century A.D., Arabic started to spread to the Middle East as many people started to convert to Islam. During this time of religious conversions, Arabic replaced many South Arabian languages, most of which are no longer commonly spoken or understood languages.
Arabic is the official language of many countries in the Middle East such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
There are three forms of Arabic; Qur’anical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic. Qur’anical Arabic is not used in conversation or in non- religious writing and Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the Arabic world. Colloquial Arabic refers to Arabic that is spoken with a dialect.
There are more than 30 different forms of Colloquial or Spoken Arabic. Some of the dialects that are the most common are Egyptian Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Sudanese Arabic and North Levantine Arabic. Some dialects can be so strong that although people are speaking the same language it’s hard to communicate. When this happens, Arabic speakers revert back to speaking the Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Arabic is used for TV, films, plays, poetry and in books.
Arabic is a language that can be transformed to adapt to new words that need to be created because of science or technology. However, the written Arabic language has seen no change in the alphabet, spelling or vocabulary in at least 4 millenniums.