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23 September 2014
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Arabic today
The history of Arabic
Names and writing system

Arabic today by Viv Edwards

Today Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Mauritania, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, where it is spoken by some 360 million people. It is also the language of religion for millions of Muslims in many other countries, including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the UK.

The influence of various colonial powers is felt in different parts of the Arab world. In the Mahgreb countries of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, for instance, the political, economic and linguistic influence of France is still very much in evidence; Libya was ruled briefly by Italy; and British commercial interests were dominant in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.

Speakers of Arabic in the UK fall into a number of groups. Longer-established communities include Yemeni in Birmingham, Newcastle and Cardiff, and Moroccans in the North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove areas of London.

In the oil-boom of the 1970s, significant numbers of Arabs arrived from the Gulf and set up businesses in the UK, living in some of the affluent areas of London. More recently, political turmoil in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine has given rise to growing numbers of refugees. Although no national statistics are available, a survey of London schoolchildren conducted in 2000 showed that Arabic was the seventh most commonly spoken language in the capital, used by 1.23 per cent of the school population.

The independent Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat is published in London with worldwide morning-of-publication distribution. The Kufa Gallery in Westbourne Grove is an important cultural centre, promoting Arabic arts in written and performance and visual form.


Your Comments
What is your experience of Arabic?

Roz from Dorset
I've been learning Arabic the last few years, because I love languages and it's an exciting challenge. It's so subtle and flexible!

Latifa, Ipswich
Well im british and tunisian, and speak good arabic-but local slang but its understandable :) im learning to write arabic currently, but its so hard caz theres not many places rnd my area which speak arabic :S so im going to study in tunisia next year :) yay!!

Iman, Walthamstow, London
Arabic laguage iz biggle dnt twatch dat. spoken by moroccnz algerianz n tunisianz n more. big up ladbroke grove, edware road, finsbury park n all dem endz, brrrrap! peace out all ma arabz xXxXxX

Michael, Edinburgh
Yiddish isn't a Semitic (which includes Arabic, Hebrew and Maltese) language despite using the Hebrew script. It belongs to the Germanic family. It has Hebrew influences though.

yoav form israel
to aidan from NZ it is true that arabic maltese and hebrew are semite languages and are related ( i wish the people could relate as well as the languages ) , however yiddish is derived mostly from middle age german albeit with some hebrew included but only to a small extent.

Aidan Work from Wellington,New Zealand.
Arabic is a dialectal language which is in the same family of languages as Hebrew,Maltese,& Yiddish.A Jordanian would be able to talk politics or religion with a Moroccan,but would have trouble ordering lunch in a Kuwaiti restuarant.

bubacarr bojang from gambia
i think is wounderful

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