September 7, 2019 18

The Arabic Language: Its Amazing History and Features

The Arabic Language: Its Amazing History and Features


Back in 2013 I produced one of the strangest videos on YouTube: a video about Arabic in Japanese with English subtitles and me teaching an arabic lesson to Japanese viewers at the end. Lots of people were bewildered. Today, I’m going to try again. Hello everyone, welcome to the Lang Focus channel and my name is Paul. Today’s topic is the Arabic language or “al Arabiya” as it’s called in arabic. Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world with 293 million native speakers, and 422 million speakers in total. It’s an official language in 26 countries. That doesn’t mean it’s the majority language in all of those countries, but it’s one of the official languages. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and as the language of the Quran – the holy book of Islam – it is also the liturgical language of 1.7 billion muslims around the world. Most of those people don’t speak Arabic but many have some knowledge of arabic for reading, and for reciting prayers and religious study. Speaking about Arabic can be confusing, because there are many different varieties of the language. One of the main varieties is the classical arabic of the Quran. This is considered by many to be the most perfect form of Arabic, and some say it’s the only true Arabic, because it was the language in which God revealed the quran to Muhammad. Then there’s Modern Standard Arabic, which is the form of Arabic used as an official language today. It’s the modern form of literary arabic which was based on the classical Arabic of the Quran, but with some adaptations and a greatly expanded vocabulary to make it more suitable for modern times. It’s not exactly the same as classical Arabic, but both of them are referred to by Arabs as “Al-Fusha”, meaning “eloquent speech”. Modern Standard Arabic is the language of books, media, education and formal situations, but not as the language of everyday speech. For everyday speech, Arabic speakers use their local dialects – or “Amiya” – Which can differ quite significantly from country to country, and even from one place to another within a single country. Arabic is a semitic language. Arabic and other Semitic languages like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician all developed from the same proto-semitic language. Arabic forms one branch of Central Semitic, while another branch of Central Semitic includes Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician. Old Arabic. Numerous Semitic languages related to Arabic were spoken in Arabia between the 13th and 10th century CE, but they don’t have features that would classify them as Arabic. The earliest evidence of people referred to as “Arab”, is in an Assyrian inscription from the Eighth Century Bce. But, it just mentions the Arabs. It doesn’t give any examples of their language. From the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE we have inscriptions showing evidence of an early form of Arabic. Some of those inscriptions are written in that early form of Arabic, and others are written in Aramaic, but show some influence from Arabic. Those inscriptions consist mostly of proper names, so they don’t give us an awful lot of information about what the language was like. The earliest inscription that is unmistakably Arabic is from the 1st Century BCE, and was found at Ein Avdat. It’s an Aramaic inscription, but it contains three lines of Arabic. Another inscription was discovered at An-Namaara, 120 kilometers southeast of Damascus, dating back to 329 CE. The language of this inscription is nearly identical to classical Arabic as we know it, even though these inscriptions are unmistakably written in Arabic, They are not written in the Arabic script, but rather the Nabataean script, which derived from the Aramaic script. But there are also inscriptions from the 4th and 5th century CE that are written in a script that’s more like Arabic. It’s generally thought that the Arabic script developed from the Nabataean Script, and these inscriptions might be written in a script that’s somewhere between those two. Classical Arabic Before the beginning of Islam, there were numerous dialects of Arabic spoken around the peninsula, but there was also a common literary language used among the different tribes for poetry, a koine, which was a compromise between the various dialects. The pieces of Poetry written in this literary koine are the earliest examples of classical Arabic. The Quran was written in the 7th century when muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, and then it was written down over a 23-year period. At the time the quran was written, there were seven dialects of classical Arabic, the Quran was written in all of them. But the Quraishi version became the standard upon which the text of today’s quran is based. The differences are in pronunciation, not in vocabulary or grammar. The Arabic of the Quran is similar to that of the pre-Islamic classical Arabic poetry, but not exactly. Beginning during the life of Muhammad, and continuing into the eighth century, the Islamic conquests spread the Arabic language into new faraway lands. After the Islamic conquests, there was an important need to standardize the language, because vast numbers of people were beginning to speak it. The script was made more practical, new vocabulary was created, and the grammar and style of prose was standardized. Neo-Arabic and Middle Arabic While classical Arabic was being standardized as a written language, local dialects of Arabic also emerged in the cities of the Arab Empire. These dialects did not descend directly from classical Arabic, but rather from pre-islamic Arabic dialects or from a single Arabic “koine”, which was the common language of conquering Arab armies. These new dialects were also influenced by the original languages of areas that were conquered. The dialects of the Levant and Mesopotamia were influenced by Aramaic. The dialects of the Maghreb were influenced by Berber. The dialects of Egypt were influenced by Coptic, and so on. The early centuries of these newly-emerging dialects are referred to as neo-Arabic. Even though classical Arabic was standardised, not everybody could write it perfectly. Writing that contains features of both classical Arabic and neo-Arabic or dialects, is referred to as middle Arabic. “Middle” doesn’t refer to a time period But rather these texts were somewhere in the middle between classical and colloquial. Modern Arabic Over the centuries the neo arabic dialect continued to evolve into [the] modern colloquial dialects of today, but literary arabic remained relatively constant because the arabic of the quran was always seen as the ideal Arabic to imitate and this probably had a conservative effect on the dialects limiting them from changing too much after Napoleon entered Egypt in 1798 the Arab World entered a period of greater contact with the West the influx of new Western concepts required the arabic language to be updated in the early 20th century regional academies of the Arabic-language began a process of language reform focused Mainly on Expanding and updating the languages vocabulary these updates culminated in what is now known as modern Standard arabic? Diglossia Arabic is well known for its state of diglossia Arabic speakers used two distinctly different Forms of the language in parallel for different purposes modern Standard Arabic is not learned by anyone as a native language But it’s used in reading and writing in Media on children’s TV shows and in formal speeches while the colloquial dialects are used almost universally For daily conversation as I mentioned [before] there’s quite a lot of variation amongst arabic dialects how well two speakers Understand each other depends on the geographic distance of their dialects as well as exposure many arabic speakers have told me that Speakers of the Middle Eastern dialects really have no trouble understanding each other and that the main trouble comes in understanding the Maghrebi dialect Especially Moroccan but these days with the spread of cable TV and the internet people are being exposed to a wider range of dialects on a more regular basis which helps people understand different dialects more and of course there’s also alpha Ska Modern Standard Arabic when speakers of significantly different dialects communicate with each other they can switch [to] Modern Standard arabic Or they can adjust their speech to make it more formal and literary and similar to Modern Standard arabic But not exactly another common way [for] native speakers to bridge the dialect gap is to use something called the white Dialect which is a more formal version of dialectal speech that uses features that are common to most of the different dialects But it leaves out features that are limited to specific dialects this is essentially a modern arabic coin a sowhat’s arabic like Let’s take a look at some features of Arabic focusing on Modern Standard Arabic the Script the Arabic Script is written from right to left and Consists of letters that imitate handwriting most letters join to the letter that comes after them however [a] few letters remain disjoint the letters that join have two forms one short form at the beginning or in the middle of words and Another long form at the end of words or when the letter is by itself The Arabic Script is an abjad meaning that each letter represents a consonant And that short vowels are not really and that long vowels and diphthongs can be ambiguous How can we read Arabic without vowels well can you read this? Here the short vowels are not written and the others seem somewhat incomplete But we have a hint about what the vowels are this is kind of like reading arabic But arabic has more predictable vowel patterns than English so it’s easier to guess also Arabic can be written with [hodduk] [ad] which are extra diacritic markings that indicate the short vowel sounds These are generally only used in texts that are really important to pronounce perfectly like the quran or poetry or children’s materials Phonology, Arabic has a number of consonant sounds which are surprising or challenging for speakers of many other languages for example? ha as in the word Salines meaning golf Then there’s pause as in the word column pen this is like a [que] but pronounced further back in your throat Then there’s the letter ha like in the word par meaning hot Wine some say [that] this is similar to the french r sound for example the word orifice meaning room Arabic also has a number of in phatak consonants for example. There’s scene Which is like the regular s sound in English, but there is also [saab] Which is an emphatic s as in the word [fuzzy] meaning small also notice the [sign] in the middle To make this sound you have to keep your tongue close to the roof of your mouth if you want to try it Position your mouth as though you are going to say a k and hold that position Then make an s sound instead go ahead try it saw saw There are three other emphatic consonants – an emphatic tall dog and Zhou? Morphology Arabic words are mostly constructed from three-letter roots or sometimes for and these letters are then inserted into templates Consisting of a fixed vowel pattern and some structural continents if you know the root letters you can identify the core meaning of the word and If you know the template you know what type of word it is Let’s take the root ha ha [Jean] which means to go out or to exit and let’s put it into this template we get the word maharaj Which is the noun meaning exit like a door you exit through to? This template indicates a place where the action of the route is done if we use the route [Dala] kah Lam which means to come in we get led the hunt which means entrance If we use the route cast that bear we get elected meaning office these kinds of recurring templates help you to know how to pronounce words even when the short vowels are not written if you see the letter Meme followed by three route letters altogether with no long vowels you can guess [that] the word is in this template and Pronounce it with too short a vowels Verbs in Arabic are part of the same system of roots and templates the templates tell us the 10th Person Gender and number of the verb and the Route Provides us the core meaning again Let’s take the route ha ha Jean and pop it into this template here And we get hat Azzam, and we know what this means it’s the past tense third [person] masculine singular conjugation He exited How does I mean Adam, [Edessa]? This means he exited the school Now put the root into this template how let’s do this means I exited this Suffix here indicates past tense first person singular [are] still me get elected? this means I exited the office if We put it into this template [yeah], so it means he exits. This is the present tense template [yes], what was only elected this means he exits the office Resumed means they exit saya who’s una Manera [negative] this means They will exit the office the sentence is in [the] future tense to change the present tense to the future tense You simply add the suffix [sap] to the beginning of the present tense template sap is used for near future and a separate particle [sofa] is used for the more distant future arabic has no other verb tenses only past and present and future Which uses the present tense conjugation? This semitic system of roots and templates is really quite intuitive once you get used to it and it’s quite ingenious if you ask me word order Modern Standard arabic is a Vso language by default as opposed to arabic dialects which are Mainly Svo Yet [looser] Roger Lavinia the means the man is studying arabic. Here’s the verb the subject and the object These are the definite article al but before certain letters the [lam] or the L sound assimilates to the following letter So Al dajjal becomes [our] [rajala] This is the basic word order But Svo is also possible in a sentence with a pronoun Vso is not possible for example and a sofa a druce Al arabiya this means I will study arabic in the future you can’t say south a drisana [Al] [arabiya] You can either say it with the pronoun first or with no pronoun just sofa, [Drusilla], Ravinia Because the verb conjugation tells us that this is the first person singular so we don’t need the pronoun Cases one aspect of Standard Arabic is cases there [are] three cases in Arabic nominative genitive? And accusative and nouns take special endings to show their function in the sentence Let’s take the word [Khattab] which means book in nominative. It’s [t] Tableau in generative it’s Keypad be in accusative it [kitada], Al [Khattab] [we’ll] Valdez ooh this means the excellent book the noun key tab is in the nominative and the adjective is also Inflected to agree with the noun and an upper al-Khattab and this means I am reading a book Here key tab is in the accusative, and it’s indefinite the end sound at the end here indicates that it’s indefinite What if’ will get a b this means the author of the book here key tab is in the genitive case? These case endings are not used at the end of a sentence But only when the word is followed by something the form at the end of a sentence without a case ending is called the puzzle form These case endings are often not [used] in Modern Standard Arabic They’re generally only used in prepared texts or prepared speeches two more sentences – Louie all except this means I usually don’t work on Saturday word-for-word it’s usually no I work day the Saturday that is the negation particle used for the present tense Armen is the verb for work and its root is ein. Meme lem and this is the first person singular present tense young and [acept] [Irani] Dafa so together they mean the day of Saturday Yadava is a construction of two nouns side by side to show possession Fun fact the word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat which is related to this arabic word Sabbath Seth would say you’re a tienen victim this means. I’ll drive my car to the office word for word. [‘it’s] will I drive my car to the office remember saw is added to the present tense verb to form the future food Contains the verb off wow Dal and this is the first person singular present tense conjugation? saya Fe is the word Saya with a possessive suffix meaning my at the end and when a Suffix is added the letter hat becomes @ @ Allah is a preposition showing direction the L here or the lamb is the definite article. [L] but the a sound or the aleph assimilates [to] the preceding long a as You can see arabic is a fascinating language with lots of interesting features from its script to its Phonology to its root and template system It’s a language that often seems intimidating to learners But that’s partly because modern standard arabic materials are aimed at reading and writing and grammar rather than on communication materials for learning Arabic dialects tend to be more fun and communicative The question that’s asked over and over and over is what form of arabic should I learn a dialect or modern Standard arabic? in my opinion It’s important to learn some modern Standard Arabic either before you start to learn a dialect or at the same time But if you know some modern standard arabic it will help you to make sense of different dialects that you encounter and it will help You to understand different registers [of] speech even when [people] are speaking in their dialects, but if your main goal is communications then I don’t think it’s necessary to learn to speak Modern Standard Arabic at a high level [and] That brings me to the question of the day [two] native speakers of Arabic and to learners of Arabic alike What do you think which form of arabic is the best to learn Modern Standard Arabic or a dialect? Leave your answers in the comments down below be sure to follow lange focus on Facebook Twitter or Instagram it’s especially important these days because weird thing are happening with YouTube and Nobody’s really [sure] what the future will bring so it’s good to have a way to be in touch with you outside of YouTube so I can let you know what’s happening [with] my videos and in a worst case scenario Where my videos will be if not on YouTube so be sure to follow me on at least one of those and I want to Say, thanks again as usual to all of my patreon supporters Especially these people right here on the screen for they’re very helpful monthly pledges. Thank you for watching and have a nice stay

18 Replies to “The Arabic Language: Its Amazing History and Features”

  • Kevin Herman says:

    This be my opinion, so take it as you will, but Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the way to go. It's my understanding that a dialect will provide greater assistance to verbal communication, but since MSA is used in things like news reels and formal addresses, (not necessarily talking about street addresses, mind you), then I would presume, and dare to state, that learning the form of Arabic most related to the Qu'ran, will better enable you to communicate with Arabic-speakers, in a generalized sense. If you must learn a dialect, I suggest Egyptian Arabic, since Egypt has long-since been a media superpower in the Middle East, and it's generally understood by a majority of Arab speakers, with somewhat no regards to speakers of a different dialect. Not only that, but in a limited research capacity, I managed to see a glimpse of Egyptian Arabic, and it seems to me, that aside from it's influence from Coptic, that it basically is MSA, but with some vowel changes, and maybe a few consonant changes here and there.

  • Kevin Herman says:

    Funny thing is, in reading through some of these comments typed in Arabic, I can read and understand some of it. 🤣🤣

  • راشد الدوسري says:

    I am a native Arabic speaker, Standard Arabic is the best to learn, The dialect is just adapted from major standard Arabic.

  • Abdelhamid Abbas says:

    Al Fusha is the way to go because it is a pass where ever you go in the Arab world. local dialect are beautiful and rich but limiting for those who want a wider audience .

  • Amer Bishara says:

    I recommend for every one to to start learn modern Arabic – classical Arabic is very difficult like the shakespearian Englisg. it is not recommended to start with local Arabic dielects / because there are many accents with deferent words and meanings – Modern Arabic (media , newspapers , or book today)can every one understand you/

  • kevin king says:

    I dont see anything amazing about the history of arabic language

  • Muhammad Emara says:

    standard Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran , so my advise to the new learners is , learn the modern standard arabic because if you do so , u will be able to read the Quran and also talk to all people in the Arab world , some ppl will find it strange at first but shortly they will be impressed of how good your arabi is , learning dfialects is not as useful as MSA as its alot and u cant learn them all and u will not be able to understand the Quran

  • Shahid MW says:

    All languages are related.

    Arabic: Dalla = to go astray.

    Modern English: d(w)ell.
    In Middle English: d(w)ellen = to lead astray.
    In Old English: d(w)ellan = to lead or go astray.

    Dalla, d(w)ell, d(w)ellen, d(w)ellan.

    The semantic change occurred after Middle English.

  • hawk eyes says:

    U have to learn a very little of modern standard Arabic before u start learning a dialect "that's if u wanna learn Arabic to communicate with ur Arab friends or with the locals if u live at an Arab country" if u are living at an Arab country and u want to communicate with the locals its definetly better to learn their dialect because u probably won't be able to speak the formal way cause its hard to master ( and u will be the everyday joke of everybody around u ). The most well understood dialect is the Egyptian i guess but i usually prefer the Syrian dialect because its the second most well understood dialect and it's much easier and sounds hot " especially for women XD". or the gulf dialect which is dominating the Arab Social media like Instagram and Snapchat. Forget about the Maghrab or Morrocan dialect because its even hard for Arabs themselves to learn.
    The northern yemenes, Sudanese and Some saudi dialect are my favorite and i use them at all time, but for most of the Arab people from somewhere else and even from those areas, these dialect sound either too manly and intimidating ( like yemenies ) or like the gangsters way to talking XD ( like Sudanese, no offense to u guys i love u so much XD ) and they are not very well understood.
    If u want to learn Arabic to know more about Islam and the middle eastern history and poetry u must learn both modern standard Arabic and classical Arabic as well, but u have to work ur ass out because its arguably agreed that for people who speak European language, its the hardest in the world.
    If u have read all the way down to here then good luck because u r probably very interested to waste all that time XD

  • steve the chief says:

    In the video it says it co official language in sudan which it's not true ,it's the official language there, we don't even speak any other language

  • STohme says:

    Arabic is my native language, So I would not recommend to learn a dialect because this will limit the scope of the language to the a geographic location : if you learn north African dialect you will not understand the middle eastern Arabic and vice-versa. The best choice from my point of view is to learn modern Arabic used on TV and newspapers. And it is always possible to establish a more or less basic communication with anyone within the Arab world using modern Arabic. Paul, I congratulate you for the excellent quality of your videos and I appreciated very much this one in particular… Many thanks for all your work and with my warm greetings from France.

  • The Spectator says:

    I'm indonesian, i can read qur'an and iqra. I remember many surah in qur'an and understand it. But i cannot read "all arabic comments down here" 😭.

  • danishhanif96 says:

    Arabic has slightly changed in 1400 years but english changed upside down in 1000 years

  • isco 7oud says:

    انظر يا صديقي
    ان تعلم اللغه العربيه الفصحي سيكون صعب جدا علي اي دارس جديد للغه واعتقد انه الافضل ان يدرسوا الحديثه لانها تهمهم فقط للتواصل ولكن الفصحي للذين يريدون التعمق في سحر و تاريخ الحضاره العربيه 💗💗💗💗

  • Truevan ASAP says:

    Well said, I like this video

  • Aya j says:

    انا عربية سورية جاي اتعلم عربي😂😂💔

  • Karim Belaid says:

    Arabic Culture & Folklore of Algeria : youtube.com/watch?v=id9J5oBkrd8&t=4s

  • Disregarding Sanity says:

    Arabic is a language written from right-to-left. As a left-handed person, this language is approved by me!

  • Ahmed Omar says:

    السلام عليكم من مصر

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