The Three Major Types of Spoken Arabic Language

The Three Major Types of Spoken Arabic Language

Known as the “lingua franca” or common language of the Arab world, Arabic language has been around since the 1st century. Its belongs to the Semitic family of languages together with Modern Hebrew, Amharic, Tigre, Tigrinya, Syriac, Aramaic dialects, Maltese, and many more.

It is estimated that over 300 million people in the world speak Arabic as their main language of communication. Furthermore, there are 1.2 billion Muslims that use Arabic when praying and doing religious activities.

Being classified as a macrolanguage, there are 30 modern varieties of the Arabic language. With its diverse and broad scope, it is just wise and practical to divide Arabic into three major varieties.

Classical Arabic

The oldest and most studied type of spoken Arabic language is the Classic Arabic. It is the language of Quran and texts from the Islamic empire are usually written in Classical Arabic manner. Other contexts that mostly used Classical Arabic includes hadith, Islamic law, theology, biography, history, poetry, grammar, medicine, geography, and other sciences.

Being the first Arabic language, it was the first linguistic taught in universities. Few decades have passed, Classical Arabic still do exist but is restricted to religious frameworks and highly formal contents.

Modern Standard Arabic

If there is one variant of the Arabic language that is widely used up until today, it would be none other than al-Fusha or the Modern Standard Arabic. It is a direct descendant of the former and now known as the language of elevated discourse, modern literature, and mass media. From newspaper contents to radio and television, even the internet uses MSA or Modern Standard Arabic as a means of communication.

Modern Standard Arabic is a formal, and mainly written language that although widespread, is not used for daily life communication. There are no native speakers of MSA but those who can speak the language learned it through formal education. Still, majority of Arabs can comprehend MSA because it is an overlap between different varieties of Arabic language.

Colloquial Arabic

For normal conversation, everyday discourse, and pop culture media, Ammiyya or Colloquial Arabic is the regional dialect of choice. Language varies depending on geographical location, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, and many more. Due to close proximity with each other, Arabs from different location can understand dialects from other region.

There are four major Colloquial Arabic dialects namely the:

  • Maghrib or those from Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia.
  • Libya and Egypt.
  • Levant comprising of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq.
  • Gulf area covering Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

To be fluent in speaking and writing, you need to deeply understand and develop proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic along with other dialects.
Since Arabic language is such a dynamic and complex language to understand, those having difficulties comprehending Arabic documents may want to seek the help of local translation services.

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