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Learning Arabic … which variety? Posted by on Jan 15, 2009 in Language

The Arabic language has many varieties, and many of those who start Arabic wonder which variety of Arabic they should learn. There are two main classifications of varieties of Arabic, and there are many sub classifications as well: The main classifications are Classical Arabic (/ العربية الفصحى al-‘arabeya al-fuSha), i.e. the written and formal varieties and Colloquial Arabic ( al-‘ameya / العامية)  the spoken varieties.

Classical Arabic (/ العربية الفصحى al-‘arabeya al-fuSha) has two subclassifications: Classical, which is the variety used in the Qur’an and classical poetry and Modern Standard Arabic (العربية المعاصرة / al-‘arabeya al-mu’aSera) which is the modern version of classical Arabic. It is used in newspapers, textbooks, etc. It is mainly a written variety, but it can be spoken in formal situations like conferences, speeches and reading the news.

Colloquial Arabic (العامية) is used by people in everyday life. It has many regional varieties that differ from one region to another and from one country to another within a given region. Colloquial dialects are roughly divided into Egyptian Arabic (spoken in Egypt and parts of neighbouring countries), Levantine Arabic (spoken in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories), and Maghreb Arabic (spoken in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).

Learners of Arabic (both native and non-native) usually learn Modern Standard Arabic. It is the written variety, and when spoken it understood by the great majority of Arabs regardless of the regional dialects they speak.

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Comments:

  1. Lukas:

    Nice, a first post :).

    I am learning Modern Standard Arabic.

    أتعلم العربية المعاصرة

  2. dev:

    Try the following for learning classical Arabic

    http://www.80percentwords.com

  3. usman:

    brief precise introduction of arabic! n thanks to dev.

  4. mahmoud:

    Hi everyone,

    If you are interested in learning Arabic, here is the place for you. http://www.arabacademy.com. They offer ONLINE arabic courses and courses are also offered at their location in Cairo.

    They have different courses: Modern Arabic, classical Arabic, Quranic Arabic, colloqial Arabic and more…

    You really get to learn the language quickly.

    And guess what they have speaking courses that allows you to have one to one conversations in arabic until you are fluent.

  5. Julia Bender:

    In which variety do the news organizations report on television broadcasts?

  6. Aziza:

    Ahlan Julia,
    News organizations use Modern Standard Arabic for reports on TV.
    Salam,
    Aziza

  7. Julia Bender:

    Thanks Aziza, are you familiar with many of the television stations that broadcast in arabic? Are there many of them?

  8. Aziza:

    Shukran Julia,
    There are practically thousands of TV stations that broadcast in Arabic. Some of them you can even view online, e.g.

    http://www.aljazeera.net/channel/livestreaming

    http://www.alarabiya.net/default.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/av/programmes/2008/02/080222_live_tv.shtml

    I hope you find these useful.
    Salam,
    Aziza

  9. Shannon Elizabeth:

    I’m in the process of learning Arabic (MSA) right now! I’ve been considering doing an intensive course in the Middle East (Egypt, Yemen or Syria) but am wondering how well I’ll actually be able to CONVERSE in learning MSA over a colloquial dialect? Has anyone done any of these intensive programs? I’d love to hear about it!

    • aziza:

      @Shannon Elizabeth Most programs for teaching Arabic as foreign language concentrate on MSA, but I really believe it is important to learn a local dialect as well to understand the culture and to be able to speak naturall y in everyday situations. It is hard, but it is important. Good luck with your efforts!
      Salaam,
      Aziza

  10. Muhmmed:

    i am Moroccan and i want to learn the Syrian accent and dilect as i will be moving over there any ideas how to learn the accent fast??
    (as i’m Moroccan i already speak 3rabi but as you know it is different from the syrian dilect i just want to learn the accent and the differences of how we pronounce things)
    Thank you in advance
    Mu7ammed