What makes an Arab country

Countries where Arabic is spoken

Origin and dialects

The Arabic language comes from the Afro-Asian language family and has its origins in the Arabian Peninsula. The oldest written records date from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Besides the pure native speakers, Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people as a second or foreign language. It is therefore one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in the world. The Koran gave it a meaning that lasted around 1400 years and is used far beyond the borders of what was then Arabia.

Like most languages, Arabic is divided into different dialects. With the spread of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries, numerous widely dispersed communities emerged, which in turn changed the language over time or allowed influences from formerly regional languages. Often the dialects differ only slightly in the written forms, but rather in the pronunciation. Persian, Aramaic and Greek, for example, had a great influence. In the last two centuries, many loanwords from English and French have also been added. In some cases, the dialects are similar to one another in writing, but their pronunciation is not understandable even for native Arabic speakers. The geographical classification alone is based on over 2 dozen dialects.

Arabic script and alphabet

The Arabic script consists of 29 characters and consists only of consonants and long vowels. It is written from right to left. Similar to the Latin script, the Arabic script is a current script, i.e. a writing style in which the pen is only rarely lifted and the letters are connected to one another. Due to this little interruption of the lines and the increasing number of letters over time, additional dots were added above and below the consonants from the 800 century AD in order to be able to better distinguish them from one another.

A peculiarity of the Arabic script goes back to the prohibition of images in Islam: Instead of depicting things artistically, they shifted to script and developed numerous calligraphy scripts. This is how the elegant inscriptions on religious buildings were created.