Arabic is a Semitic language that is spoken by more than 400 million people around the world. Other than native speakers, a growing number of people are seeking to learn Arabic more and more every day. The reason why it’s so popular is that it’s the language of the Quran and Hadith.
Every Muslim should be able to recite Quran and understand its meanings in the original language it was written in. In order to understand the Quranic text and context, you have to learn Quranic Arabic (or Classical Arabic).
Besides the enormous glory that Arabic possesses as the language of the Holy Book of Allah, there are lots of unique things about this language.
Whether you’re a learner who wants to explore these characteristics, or you’re a person who wants some encouragement to learn something interesting, read this article to know the 7 unique characteristics of the Arabic language.
7 Unique Characteristics of Classical Arabic
More Than 30 Varieties
Arabic is one of the world’s most diverse languages. Aside from classical Arabic, there are two major varieties. The first is modern Arabic, which is used for literature writing and formal speech, and the second is colloquial Arabic, which is used for everyday conversation.
The Arabic language has more than 400 million native speakers who speak Arabic in a different way according to their region. The Arabic dialects reach up to 30 dialects that get broken down to even more dialects within the same country.
Arab dialectologists have developed a precise categorization for current varieties of the language, which is grouped into five primary categories:
More varieties are found in Arabic, to mention a few, Jewish, Creoles, Pidgins, and Diglossic varieties (Modern Standard Arabic).
Direction of Writing
Unlike most languages in the world, Arabic is written from right to left. While it is true that all Semitic languages are written from right to left, there is no clear historical explanation for the phenomena.
This isn’t only about direction, it’s a part of the Arabic culture that always tries to start things from the right rather than left, showing how much the language is rooted in the Arab culture.
Rich in Words
The Arabic vocabulary is known to be mesmerizing to those who start learning it. It’s descriptive, precise, smart, poetic, and has hundreds of varieties that each describe something unique about a thing.
Arabic is known to have more than 12.3 million unique words. There’s nothing that can’t be described exactly how it is in Arabic. For example, the word camel has over 100 variations precisely describing the state of the camel!
To imagine how rich the language is, note that many other languages borrowed words from it, especially the English language. English words like amber, candy, racquet, arsenal, alcohol, algebra, cotton, algorithm, kebab, coffee, giraffe, sugar, hazard, loofah, camel, magazine, ghoul, lemon, alkaline, sofa, and tariff are all taken from its Arabic origin.
Other languages like Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bengali, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Berber, Bosnian, Chechen, Croatian, Dagestani, English, German, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Kazakh, Kurdish, Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), and Romance languages (French, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Spanish, etc.) have Arabic origins.
Only Three Vowels!
It’s amazing how a 12.3 million-word language can produce this many words with only three vowels out of 28 letters! These three vowels have five different versions. This implies that the great majority of Arabic words are made up entirely of consonants.
The Usage of Tashkeel
Short vowels (known as Tashkeel) are indicated by marks placed above or below the letters in a word. You may not find them in all Arabic writing such as the Modern Standard one.
They aren’t essential if you’re an experienced reader because you’ll be able to interpret words on your own. They are, however, essential required for Holy writings such as Islam or Hadith, as well as any work created for beginners to read.
Easier Spelling and Pronunciation
Arabic is easier than most languages in terms of spelling and pronunciation. You simply pronounce what’s written in front of you. In English, words like “know” and “slaughter” have silent letters that may confuse the beginner reader. In Arabic, letters correspond to sounds.
The Change of The Letter Form
Each of the 28 Arabic letters has a basic form, however, this form frequently changes depending on whether the letter is put at the beginning, middle, or end of the word. This resulted in more creativity in writing, as Arabic writing has 5 major calligraphy scripts with their variants used today.
Alt-text: Arabic Calligraphy Scripts
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How Long Does It Take To Learn The Arabic Language?
It requires an average of 1.69 years (88 weeks), or 2,200 hours of Arabic language classes, to reach speaking and reading proficiency. Even though learning Arabic is not the easiest task you can do, it’s all worth it.
What Are The Arabic-speaking Countries?
Arabic is an official or co-official language in 25 countries around the world. These countries are Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Is Arabic in demand?
Yes, Arabic is extremely high in demand. It’s one of the most five spoken languages in the world. Already spoken by around 400 million people, more people seek to learn it every day. It’s one of the United Nations languages and highly required in jobs abroad.
How Old Is The Arabic Alphabet?
The Arabic alphabet was established in the fourth century CE, but the oldest extant Arabic writing is a 512 CE trilingual inscription (Greek-Syriac-Arabic). Some claim that the Arabic alphabet originated in the north, in Al Hirah (fourth to seventh-century Mesopotamia), while others claim that it started in the south, in Himyar (110 BC to AD 525).