There are many Arabic dialects and we will discuss most of them here and see which one is easier and more efficient to learn.
There are 25 countries around the world speaking the Arabic language as an official language or co-official, with more than 60 million speakers and the number keeps increasing as time goes by.
Now, let’s learn about Arabic dialects and who speaks them.
What are the different Arabic dialects?
Here are the main Arabic dialects:
1- Maghrebi Arabic:
This dialect is used in the Western Arab countries which include: Algerians, Moroccans, and Tunisians. The total number of people who speak Maghrebi Arabic is about 80 million.
You can learn Maghrebi Arabic from the textbook ‘The Routledge Introductory Course in Moroccan Arabic’.
Egyptian Arabic is the Arabic used in Egypt. And most Arab understand it, as Egyptian movies and TV series are popular. So, if you are a non-Arabic speaker then this might be the easiest dialect to learn.
3- Arabian colloquial:
This Arabic dialect is also called Khaliji or Gulf Arabic. The countries that speak it include Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait.
4- Yemeni Arabic:
This one has many dialects but the main dialect is called San’ani or Sana’ dialect. You should know that the hardest two dialects to learn are Yemeni and Maghrebi.
The Arabic dialect spoken in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. More than 30 million speak it.
This includes several mutually understandable varieties that have been spoken even in parts of Iraq and eastern Syria.
Those are not all the Arabic dialects in the world, there are still many others like Hassaniya in Mauritania. It is closer to the Gulf dialect than it is to the Maghrebi.
What is the most common Arabic dialect?
The most common Arabic dialect that people use or learn is Egyptian Arabic. Egyptian Arabic is the Arabic used in Egypt. And most Arab understands it because Egyptian movies and TV series are popular. So, if you are a non-Arabic speaker then this might be the easiest dialect to learn.
What is the easiest Arabic dialect to learn?
There are no easy or difficult dialects, the key to answering this is to know why you want to learn Arabic and which dialect you prefer. For example, if you are learning the Arabic language to travel to Egypt then you should learn the Egyptian dialect.
Mainly, the Egyptian dialect is considered the easiest because there are many learning resources out there, and you also have the Syrian dialect. The choice here falls on you.
What is the most useful Arabic dialect to learn?
The Egyptian dialect is the most common dialect used and learned around the world because it’s easily understood by other Arab countries.
Which Arabic dialect should I learn?
The answer to this question is decided by you; listen to the different Arabic dialects and see which one appeals to you more. Listen to songs, watch movies or videos to decide.
However, it is a good idea to start learning Modern Standard Arabic first which will be understood by all the Arabic speakers around the world. Then you could learn the Egyptian dialect as it is widely used by the media. That’s if you don’t have a specific goal for learning the language, but if you plan on traveling to an Arab country then you better learn its dialect.
What are the main types of Arabic?
There are three main types of the Arabic language and they are:
- Classical Arabic (Quranic).
- Modern Standard Arabic.
- Colloquial Arabic.
1- Classic Arabic
Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran. It is rarely used except when reciting the Quran or quoting old religious texts.
Today, because studies in Islam and the Quran require a high degree of knowledge of Arabic syntax, lexical theory, and semantics, only Muslim priests who attended religious schools wrote classical Arabic.
Classic Arabic is also found in pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry, prophecies, and some 1st-century historical documents.
The Arabic language in general derives its grammatical and syntactic rules from its classical form. Mastery of classical Arabic requires years of study and oral practice. It uses archaic vocabulary, most of which is borrowed from the Quran and hadiths.
Just like in the Quran, classical Arabic speeches are rich in stylistic tools, figurative speech, rhyming sentences, and word order not typically found in MSA.
Most non-native learners of Arabic are interested in classical Arabic either because they want to understand the Quran or are scholars of theology and experts in comparative religious studies.
Arabic is the liturgical language of around one billion Muslims across the world who need to recite Quranic verses verbatim during the five daily prayers.
2- Modern Arabic
Often called Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in English and Fusha in Arabic.
It is commonly used in contexts such as writing, TV and radio broadcasts, formal interviews, speeches, and official letters.
It is similar but easier than classical Arabic.
Native Arabic speakers usually do not make a clear distinction between the two Arabic languages, but few are fluent in the latter.
Modern Standard Arabic was deliberately developed in the early 19th century as a modernized version of classical Arabic.
It was promoted by the pan-Arab anti-colonial movement that emerged at the time as a medium of communication that united all Arabs, regardless of country of origin or religion.
Arabs often use a combination of slang and MSA. For example, interviewers typically use MSA to ask prepared questions or make prepared remarks, then switch to colloquial variations to add instant comments or reply to questions.
Arab leaders give speeches in MSA and resort to colloquial Arabic to make a point or simplify an idea to illiterate citizens.
Another reason is most native speakers of Arabic cannot maintain speaking MSA for an extended period of time and resort to colloquial Arabic because that`s what they are used to in their daily life.
3- Colloquial Arabic or `Ammiyya:
In the Maghreb region, it is called Darija. As opposed to MSA, `Ammiyya` refers to the regional varieties or vernaculars across the Arab world used for everyday speaking situations.
In fact, `Ammiyya or Darija is the first language of every Arab, as they later acquire MSA in school. Unlike MSA, `Ammiyya does not adhere to the strict rules of grammar and word order and often loses other structured linguistic features.
In fact, Ammiyya uses many Farsi and Turkish terms in the Arab countries that were under the Ottoman rule, and Darija, or Maghrebi Arabic, has a lot of French, Spanish and Italian.
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