Learning Arabic … which variety? Posted by aziza 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.