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29 October 2014
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Arabic today
The history of Arabic
Names and writing system

More about Arabic

The writing system
Arabic has been a literary language for over 1500 years. It is written from right to left. Words are very often formed by adding vowels to consonant root forms. The consonants carry the underlying meaning and the vowels grammatical information, such as parts of speech and tense.

Arabic writing

Take, for instance, the root form ktb:

katabto write
aktobI write

The heavy reliance on the consonant roots of words has given rise to writing systems consisting largely of consonants. Vowels are indicated with marks either above or below the letters in the Qu'ran and in elementary school books, but are otherwise omitted.

Most letters change according to their position - initial, medial, final or isolated.

Calligraphy is a highly venerated art form, providing a link between the Arabic language and the Islamic religion. Proverbs and passages from the Qu'ran are often important sources for calligraphic art.Arab names
GrandfatherAbbas Ausama Ali
FatherTahir Abbas Ausama
SonSalam Tahir Abbas
DaughterFateema Tahir Abbas
The child's personal name is followed by the father's and grandfather's personal names. Alternatively, in states such as Oman, bin (son of) or bint (daughter of) is inserted before the father's and grandfather's names which, in turn, are followed by a family name starting with Al - (e.g. Salam bin Tahir bin Abbas Almoharby, Fateema bint Tahir bin Abbas Almoharby). Some Arab countries have made further adaptations. In Algeria, for instance, the influence of French has meant that the same family name is now passed from one generation to the next.


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