Arabic Language


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to Arabic Language: Arabic alphabet

Arabic Language

 

language of the Arabs in the countries of Western Asia and North Africa. It belongs to the Semitic branch of the Hamito-Semitic family of languages; approximately 96 million people speak Arabic (1967 estimate).

Arabic originated from the ancient north Arabic language (north and central Arabia and Syrian Desert) known in inscriptions since the fifth century B.C. The dialects of the ancient inscriptions (Thamudene, Lihyanite, Safaitic) are substantially different from the ancient Arabian dialect that is the basis of classical and modern Arabic (known in inscriptions only since the fourth century A.D.). Oral poetry in this dialect was well developed even in the pre-Islamic era and a standard oral and literary koine was in use. The language of the Koran (seventh century) combined the standards of the koine with those of the speech of Mecca (Muhammad’s native language). This combination gave rise to classical literary Arabic, the language of the rich artistic, scientific, and religious literature of the medieval Muslim East. This classical Arabic has remained to this day the literary language of the Arabs, retaining its ancient morphology and undergoing relatively small lexical changes.

Modern colloquial Arabic is broken down into phonetically and lexically different dialects. The dialects usually distinguished are Egyptian, Sudanese, Syrian (spoken in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel), Iraqi, the numerous archaic dialects of the Arabian Peninsula and the Maghreb, Hausa (Mauritania), and Shuwa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger). There are also significant differences within these geographic regions between the urban and rural (especially Bedouin) dialects. Maltese is also an Arabic dialect in origin.

Classical Arabic has three short and three long vowels (a, i, and u), two diphthongs, and a rich consonantism, including emphatic (velar and possibly pharyngealized) consonants (ṭ, ḳ, ṣ, and so on), interdental fricatives, laryngeal ’ and h, pharyngeals ’ and , and uvular fricatives gh and kh. Originally there were no affficatives in Arabic, but later g changed into the affricative j in many dialects as well as the classical literary language. Among the most important phonetic changes that took place in the dialects are the loss of the final short vowels, which resulted in a number of morphological changes, and the appearance of new vowels.

Besides affrication, internal inflection (alternation of vowels, doubling of consonants) plays a major role in word change. Three (less commonly four or two) consonantal roots usually carry the lexical meaning while the vowels (and consonant gemination) plus affixes express word formation and some grammatical meanings. The classical Arabic noun has two genders, three numbers (distinguishable by suffixes or internal inflection), three cases, and three states: definite (with a prepositive definite article), indefinite (with a special ending), and construct (form of the noun having a genitive determination). The noun also has personal possessive forms: kitabi (my book), kitabuhu (his book), and so on. The verb can change internally to express different meanings—for example, causative, reflexive, conative, intensive, and so on. The verb has two aspects (imperfect, which expresses a process as it takes place, and perfect, which describes the process as a whole). Suffixes express moods, person, number, and gender of the object. Prefixes express person, number, and gender of the subject.

Modern dialects preserve the morphology of the classical language with some changes; the cases, the ending of the indefinite state, and some moods are lost, and new tense forms (from analytical constructions) have appeared. Words are formed by internal inflection, by combination of an affix (prefix, suffix, infix) with internal inflection, or, much less commonly, by suffixes alone. Word compounding is virtually nonexistent. Since the sixth century A.D., Arabs have been using Arabic script, which is derived from the Nabatean version of Aramaic script.

REFERENCES

Grande, B. M. Kurs arabskoi grammatiki ν sravnitel’noistoricheskom osveshchenii. Moscow, 1963.
Zavadovskii, Iu. N. Arabskie dialekty Magriba. Moscow, 1962.
Sharbatov.G. Sh. Sovremennyi arabskii iazyk. Moscow, 1961.
Iushmanov, N. V. Grammatika literaturnogo arabskogo iazyka. Leningrad, 1928.
Brockelmann, C. Arabische Grammatik. Leipzig, 1960.
Cantineau, J. Cours de phonétique arabe. Paris, 1960.
Landberg, C. de. La langue arabe et ses dialectes. Leiden, 1905.
Biberstein-Kazimirski, A. De. Dictionnaire arabe-franqais, Paris, 1860.
Lane, E. W. Arabic-English Lexicon, book 1. London, 1863–93. Pages 1–8.
References in periodicals archive ?
Acceptable seems to be what most schools receive on their Arabic programs," said Dr Hanada Taha Thomure, Professor for Arabic Language at Zayed University.
Each year, the Arabic Language and Culture Festival celebrates the contributions of Arab culture and promotes its icons.
A panel discussion will be held on the mechanism and proposed programs to increase the outreach of the Arabic Language Coordinating Council in non-Arab countries.
Mashani, Head of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature,
Apparently, there is a need of learning Arabic language; it would be worth adding if we introduce Arabic language course in our schools.
"We currently have three stages for teaching Arabic language, each has around 200 students," one of the teachers said in the radio broadcast.
Addressing a ceremony held at Saudi embassy in connection with International Arabic Day on Monday, the vice ambassador said that Saudi embassies around the world are working for progress and development of Arabic language as it has been adopted as national language by the kingdom.
Naushad Khan said in his speech that launching a moth long Arabic course for Arabic language promotion at Islamia College was his old dream.
BEIRUT: The Arabic language is in dire need of support and revival through fundamental shifts in the way it is taught, according to a report by an Arab educational organization.
CARTHAGE (TAP) - Arabic language is a sound challenge that may help achieve modernity and avoid conformism, Caretaker President Moncef Marzouki said on Wednesday, at the opening of the World Forum of Arabic Language.
17 (SUNA) - The First Vice - President of the Republic, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, has underscored the importance of enhancing the Arabic language and linking it with the scientific and technological progress.