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Semitic language and lingua franca of the Arab world / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Arabic (اَلْعَرَبِيَّة, al-ʿarabiyyah [alʕaraˈbijːah] ; عَرَبِيّ, ʿarabī [ˈʕarabiː] or [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.[14] Having emerged in the first millennium BC, it is named after the Arab people; the term "Arab" was initially used to describe those living in the Arabian Peninsula, as perceived by geographers from ancient Greece.[15][16]

Quick facts: Arabic, Pronunciation, Native to, Ethnic...
al-ʿarabiyyah in written Arabic (Naskh script)
Pronunciation/ˈʕarabiː/, /alʕaraˈbijːa/
Native toArab world and surrounding regions
EthnicityArabs and several other peoples of the Middle East and North Africa
Speakers360 million native speakers of all varieties (2022)[1]
270 million L2 users of Modern Standard Arabic (2022)[2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Arabic alphabet
Signed Arabic (different national forms)
Official status
Official language in
Special status in Constitution
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1ar
ISO 639-2ara
ISO 639-3ara – inclusive code
Individual codes:
arq  Algerian Arabic
xaa  Andalusi Arabic
abv  Bahrani Arabic
avl  Bedawi Arabic
shu  Chadian Arabic
acy  Cypriot Arabic
adf  Dhofari Arabic
arz  Egyptian Arabic
acm  Gelet Mesopotamian Arabic
afb  Gulf Arabic
ayh  Hadhrami Arabic
mey  Hassaniya Arabic
acw  Hejazi Arabic
apc  Levantine Arabic
ayl  Libyan Arabic
ary  Moroccan Arabic
ars  Najdi Arabic
acx  Omani Arabic
ayp  Qeltu Mesopotamian Arabic
aao  Saharan Arabic
aec  Saʽidi Arabic
ayn  Sanʽani Arabic
ssh  Shihhi Arabic
sqr  Siculo-Arabic
arb  Standard Arabic
apd  Sudanese Arabic
acq  Taʽizzi-Adeni Arabic
abh  Tajiki Arabic
aeb  Tunisian Arabic
auz  Uzbeki Arabic
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Since the 7th century, Arabic has been characterized by diglossia, with an opposition between a standard prestige language—i.e., Literary Arabic: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or Classical Arabic[lower-alpha 3]—and diverse vernacular varieties, which serve as mother tongues.[18] Colloquial dialects vary significantly from MSA, impeding mutual intelligibility.[19][20][21] MSA is only acquired through formal education and is not spoken natively. It is the language of literature, official documents, and formal written media. In spoken form, MSA is used in formal contexts, news bulletins and for prayers.[22] This variety is the lingua franca of the Arab world and the liturgical language of Islam.[23] It is an official language of 26 states and 1 disputed territory, the third most after English and French.[24] It is also one of six official languages of the United Nations.[25]

Spoken varieties are the usual medium of communication in all other domains. They are not standardized and vary significantly, some of them being mutually unintelligible.[26] The International Organization for Standardization assigns language codes to 33 varieties of Arabic, including MSA.[27][28] Arabic vernaculars do not descend from MSA or Classical Arabic.[29][30] Combined, Arabic dialects have 362 million native speakers,[1] while MSA is spoken by 274 million L2 speakers,[2] making it the sixth most spoken language in the world, and the most spoken that is neither Chinese nor Indo-European.[31]

Arabic is traditionally written with the Arabic alphabet, a right-to-left abjad and the official script for MSA. Colloquial varieties were not traditionally written; however, the emergence of social media has seen a significant increase in dialects written online. Besides the Arabic alphabet, dialects are also often written in Latin script from left to right or in Hebrew characters (in Israel)[3] with no standardized orthography. Hassaniya is the only variety officially written in a Latin alphabet (in Senegal).[32][lower-alpha 4]; Maltese also uses a Latin script, though it is widely classified as distinct from Arabic dialects.

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