Arabic - العربية Language

Arabic (in Arabic: العربية, al ʿarabiyya, or sometimes simply عربي, arabi) is a Semitic language spoken by approximately 380 million people in various countries. It is the language of the Koran, the holy book of Islam, and is therefore seen as the mother tongue of the Islamic world.

The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters. Arabic is written from right to left. The order of numbers in numbers is the same as in (for example) Dutch. Many important religious, mathematical, philosophical and astrological works have been written in Arabic.

The political, cultural and religious significance of the language was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1973. Arabic then became the sixth language of the UN in addition to Mandarin, English, Russian, French and Spanish.

Spread

Arabic is the official language in North Africa (Morocco (besides Berber), Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Sudan), in the Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria), in the Gulf (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain and theUnited Arab Emirates) and in Somalia, Djibouti and the Comoros. All these countries are also members of the Arab League. Arabic is also an official language in Chad (not a member of the Arab League) and Eritrea (in addition to English and Tigrigna). In a number of countries, including Iran, Arabic is taught in public schools. In addition, Arabic is a minority language in many countries.

Varieties and dialects

Arabic as it is currently used in the media and in all written material (such as documents and books, including textbooks and reading books for young children) is called Modern Standard Arabic in the West. A distinction is made here with the classical Arabic (Foeṣḥā) in which the Koran is written. This distinction is not made in the Arab world.

In the daily conversation, different Arab varieties and dialects are spoken in the Arab countries and regions in the Middle East and North Africa. These differ from each other, which means that Arabic-speaking residents from different regions sometimes cannot understand each other. For example, a Syrian of the Moroccan dialect could only understand 10%. However, the varieties and dialects do not write. The Egyptian Arabic occupies a special position among the varieties and dialects, as the Egyptian film industry has spread throughout the Arab world. It is the most understood variety of Arabic, due to the widespread distribution of Egyptian films and television shows in the Arabic-speaking world.

In the Handbuch der arabischen Dialekte by W. Fischer and O. Jastrow (1980) the following dialect groups are distinguished:

  • Maghrebian dialects. The Maghrebian is spoken by approximately 75 million Maghreb people.
    • Andalusian Arabic (extinct )
    • Moroccan Arabic
    • Algerian Arabic
    • Tunisian Arabic
    • Libyan Arabic
    • Sicilian-Arabic ( extinct )
      • Maltese
    • Hassaniya
  • Egyptian dialects. Egyptian Arabic is spoken by around 80 million Egyptians.
  • Levantine dialects
    • Syrian Arabic
    • Lebanese Arabic
    • Palestinian Arabic
    • Jordanian Arabic
  • Mesopotamian dialects
  • Dialects of the Arabian Peninsula
    • Arabic arabic
    • Dhofarees Arabic
    • Gulf arabic
    • Hijab Arabic
    • Yemeni Arabic
    • Najdees Arabic
    • Omani Arabic
    • Shihi Arabic
  • Sudanese dialects
    • Juba Arabic
    • Tchadees Arabic

A foreigner who speaks Modern Standard Arabic is likely to be strangely looked at, because this language variant appears to be fairly formal, but he can make himself heard in front of a trained Arabic speaker. What these people say back is perhaps difficult to understand unless they do their best to speak formally.

History

The origin of the language lies on the Arabian Peninsula, even before Islam made its appearance there. The original Arabic only had 17 letters for more than 17 sounds and no possibility of displaying short vowels. Partly as a result, reading written text was difficult and gave rise to different interpretations. To limit this problem, The alphabet has been expanded to 28 letters. This can still be seen in a number of letter pairs where, for example, the added letter has an extra dot, for example the pair of ر (ra) and ز (zain). Likewise, in Old Arabic, people did not have the diacritics, which are used in the Koran, for example, to indicate the short vowels, in order to make the meaning unambiguous. As far as the Koran is concerned, there is thus in some places an interpretation of the original text with 17 symbols into the current text with the full alphabet and the diacritical signs.

The language spread rapidly across the Middle East from the 7th century. Traditionally written Arabic has changed little since its codification began towards the end of the 8th century in Kufa and Basra. Important figures in that codification were al-Khalil and his student Sibawaihi. These two worked out a puristic and prescriptive system that determined what was correct and what was wrong. The codification was based on three sources: the language of pre-Islamic poetry, the language of the Koran and the language of the Bedouins.

Learn Arabic

Reading and writing in Arabic may be difficult for someone with a non-Arabic background because of the strongly different writing. Arabic grammar also differs on many points from that of most Western languages. Not only is the grammar more extensive in some areas, Arabic also has all kinds of constructions and sequences that are characteristic of a Semitic language.

As soon as the alphabet is mastered somewhat, writing, but also reading, can be learned fairly quickly. It is true that the Arabic alphabet is used much more phonetically for the Arabic language than the Latin alphabet for most European languages. There are no two graphemes for the same sound as in Dutch at c limax and k alendar, diphthongs same grapheme, like ma ch ine and ch Emie.

It remains a difficulty, in some cases also for Arabs themselves, that in most texts the short vowels are not reproduced. This sometimes makes the texts difficult to read and, in certain cases, open to interpretation. An example: without further context information, مدرسة could mean both "madrasa" ("school") and "mudarrissa" ("teacher") and من both "man" ("who") and "minus" ("off").

A number of Arabic sounds are difficult to distinguish for the non-trained Dutch-speaking ear in the beginning. Example: the "normal" ت (ta) versus the "emphatic" ط (tah).

Teaching a good pronunciation is not trivial, mainly because it has Arabic sounds that do not occur in Dutch, such as the pharyngeal fricative ع (ain) with a voice.

It is advisable to first learn Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). It is relatively easy to acquire a local dialect of a certain country or area after having a thorough command of MSA.

Writing direction

Arabic is written from right to left. Example: كتاب - kitāb "book": letters kaf (ك) - ta (ت) - alif (ا) - ba (ب).

Vowels

Arabic has only three vowels, 'a', 'oe' and 'i', which can occur as short or long vowels and (possibly) are displayed above or below a letter by means of diacritical characters. The letters' ا '(alif)', و '(wāw) and' ي '(yā') can occur as a consonant and as the carrier of a long vowel (the 'a', 'oe' and 'i') respectively are therefore also referred to as 'the weak consonants'.

Connecting and non-connecting letters

Arabic has connecting and non-connecting letters. A connecting letter is written in a word to the letter that follows. A non-connecting letter is separate from the next letter. The non-connecting letters are 'ا' (Alif), 'د' (Dāl), 'ذ' (ðāl), 'ر' (Rā), 'ز' (Zāyn) and 'و' (Wāw). Example: the word كتاب - kitāb "book": the chaff ك and ta ت connect with the next letter, the alif ا not.

Capital letters

The Arabic script has no capital letters, unlike the Latin script. It is not alone there, also scripts such as Bengali, Chinese, Georgian, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian and Urdu have no capital letters. Ancient Greek was written with one type of letters. Public, not handwritten Latin, as on monuments, was always written in capital letters. It is now known that the Roman army (and perhaps also the Roman administration) used a lot of lowercase letters. Those texts were found on beech wood tablets in Vindolanda, a fortress along Hadrian's wall. In the Middle Ages the lowercase letters became general and names and sentences were capitalized at the beginning.

Different forms of a letter

The written form of a letter in an Arabic word depends on the position within the word. There are up to four different forms of a letter. The examples below are with the letter ع (Āyn)

To shape:

  • Isolated or independent form: the letter is at the end and follows a non-connecting letter or is used independently of a word ('ﻉ').
  • Initial form: the letter is at the beginning of a word or follows a non-connecting letter ('ﻋ'),
  • Middle form: the letter is between two connecting letters ('ﻌ'),
  • End form: the letter is at the end of the word, following a connecting letter ('ﻊ').

Example: يعرف معلم في شارع في عاصمة هولندا المصنع - y'arif mu'allim fi shari 'fi' asima hulanda almasna. - "a teacher in a street in the capital of the Netherlands knows the factory". The 'ain can be found as follows: isolated form as the last letter of شارع, initial form as the first letter of عاصمة, middle form as the second letter of معلم, end form as the last letter of المصنع.

Non-connecting letters by their nature have no initial or middle shape.

Specific Arabic letters

Arabic has a number of letters without equivalent in the Latin alphabet and script. Moreover, these letters (Huruf) are difficult to pronounce for speakers of languages from completely different language families, such that learning to pronounce them requires extra practice for them. These letters are: 'ث' (Thā' as in the English word th ree), ح (Hā'/ḥā'), ذ (ðāl), ظ (ẓā'), ع ('Ayn), غ (Ghayn, as in the French word Pa r is), and ق (QAF, a k) pronounced deep in the throat.

"Missing" letters

The Arabic alphabet has no counterpart to the letters 'p' and 'v'. They are usually replaced by the letters 'ب' (Bā') and 'ف' (Fā') respectively. Example: ببسي "Bebsi" for "Pepsi". However, sometimes the 'ﭪ' (Vā ') and 'ﭖ' (Pā'), which fall outside the normal alphabet, are used to correctly display brand/company names and foreign words. Example: the name of the Belgian city "Leuven" is written by default as لوفن, but possibly also as لوڨن.

Some Indo-European languages use a derivative of the Arabic alphabet, such as Persian and Urdu. These languages have these last letters in their alphabet.

Lam-alif ligature

In the Arabic script there is a graceful exception to the rule of connecting letters, and in the case of 'ا' (Alif) an 'ل' (Lām) follows. These two letters are connected in a special way, which is also called a ligature. The results of this are then "لا" (Lā isolated) and "لا" (Lā end).

Basic theory

Despite the fact that Arabic does have personal pronouns, they are usually not used, since the person can usually be inferred from the form of the verb. This is a fairly common phenomenon, which also occurs in most Romance and Slavic languages, among other things. When conjugating the verb, both prefixes and suffixes are added to the verb stemadded (except in the past tense, it only gets suffixes). In addition, in the 2nd and 3rd person (both singular and plural) a distinction is made between men (s) and women (s). If it is a mixed group, it will be labeled as male in the language. In the plural, a formal distinction is made between a dual (two people) and an ordinary plural (at least three people). Just like gender discrimination, this distinction is not made in the first person.

The sentence order in an Arabic verbal sentence is normal (from right to left): verb-subject objects.
Example: صَفَّرَ فُؤادُ بالصَّفَّارَةِ. (Ṣaffara Foe'ādu biṣṣaffarā) = Foe'ad blew the whistle.

In this sentence, صَفَّرَ is the personal form, فُؤادُ is the subject, and بالصَّفَّارَةِ is the object part of the sentence.

Nominal sentences usually have a different order: subject (-link verb) -administrative part. It is common for the linking verb to be (كَانَ, kāna) to be omitted in the sentence.

In addition to the most common indicative forms, verbs can also occur in other ways, depending on the structure of the sentence. These modes (modes) are the indicative, imperative, subjunctive, the apocopate and the energetic. These sages only occur in the present tense, as is the case with the imperative in Ancient Greek and Latin.

Most verbs have a root consisting of three radicals. There is also a smaller category of verbs with a root consisting of four radicals.

Western Arabists have introduced a categorization of Arabic verbs in various forms, sometimes called tribes, indicated by a Roman numeral. The basic form is form I, all other forms are so-called derived forms, which can be obtained by modifying the form I form. With verbs with a root of three radicals, there are fifteen possible forms. Forms I to X are common, forms XI to XV are rare. For verbs with a root of four radicals, there are four possible forms. See also separate article verb forms in Arabic.

In Arabic there are strong and weak verbs. The meaning of a weak verb in Arabic is more or less the opposite of that in Dutch, since in Arabic it concerns the verbs that deviate from the standard rules in their conjugation. Within the Arabic weak verbs there are different categories, depending on the number and location of the occurrence of weak radicals. There are assimilated verbs, hollow verbs, defective verbs and verbs with a double weak radical. See also separate article weak verbs in Arabic.

Refinements

In more detail, the order of an Arabic verbal sentence is normal: verb-subject-direct object-cooperative object-determinations. Example: يأكل المعلم خبز مع زوجته في المطعم (ya'kul almuʿallim chubz maʿa zouzjatihi fil matʿam): the teacher (المعلم) eats bread (يأكل خبز) in the restaurant (طيم عم عم عم عم عمر عمر عمر المطعمر

However, one sentence may well also start with the subject. Example المعلم يأكل خبز مع زوجته في المطعم (almuʿallim ya'kul chubz maʿa zouzjatihi fil matʿam). This sequence serves in principle to emphasize the subject: in the example it is the teacher who eats and not, for example, the engineer. Although this is the theory, both sequences are used in the Arabic spoken language even without special emphasis on the subject.

The sentence order also has a consequence for the conjugations of the verb in multiples. If the verb stands for the subject, the conjugation of the singular is used. The gender is retained and the rule only applies to the third person. However, if the order is subject-verb, one must use the conjugation of the plural.

Example 1: the men eat bread:

  • Regular: يأكل الرجال خبز (ya'kul arrizjaal chubz). Ya'kul is the conjugation of the 3rd person singular, masculine, despite the subject in plural.
  • Topic first: الرجال يأكلون خبز (arrizjaal ya'kulun chubz). Ya'kulun is the conjugation of the 3rd person plural, male.

Example 2: the girls/daughters eat bread:

  • Regular: تأكل البنات خبز (ta'kul albanate chubz). Ta'kul is the conjugation of the 3rd person singular, feminine, despite the subject in plural.
  • Topic first: البنات يأكلن خبز (albanate ya'kulna chubz). Ya'kulna is the conjugation of the 3rd person plural, feminine.

A small difficulty for Dutch speakers with the word order of the regular sentence is that with literal transfer to Dutch it has a form of question: "eat the teacher...". In Arabic, however, this is never a question phrase, even with a change in intonation. A question phrase in Arabic always explicitly requires a question word. If one wants to construct a yes/no question sentence on the basis of a regular sentence, one must not add a literal question word هل (hal) before the sentence. Example: هل يأكل المعلم خبز مع زوجته في المطعم؟ (hal ya'kul almuʿallim chubz maʿa zouzjatihi fil matʿam?): does the teacher eat bread in the restaurant with his wife? Also in other languages you have to add a question word, so in Hindi you start a yes/no question with the word क्या (kya).

Arabic nouns

Introduction

In Arabic linguists mean by nouns (in Arabic اِسْمٌ (ismun, a noun)) something else than in Dutch. For example, nouns also include the (personal) pronouns, adjectives and adverbs. In practice, this means that these word classes are also bent according to the construction of the sentence.

Gender

Just as in, for example, the Romance languages, a substantive can be male or female in Arabic and there is no neuter class. The male gender is the 'basic gender', the female gender is only a 'branch' of it. In Arabic, by far the most feminine words are indicated by suffixes. Usually this is تَاْءُ الْمَرْبُوْطَةُ) ـَـة, tā marbūṭā), as in اِمْرَأَة (imrā-ā, female) or مُعَلِّمَة (mu'allimā, teacher). This suffix is called the "bound tā" because this letter is not pronounced at the end of the sentence, but there are also some words that use a normal tā (ت) as a female suffix, as can be seen in words such as بِنْت (bint, daughter) and أُخْت (ucht, sister).

Cases

Arabic has three cases: the nominative (الرَّفْعُ, ar-raf'), the genitive (الْجَرُّ, al-jarr) and the accusative (النَّصْبُ, an-naṣb). Strictly speaking, there are even six cases, because nouns also behave differently when there is no question of subject form, possession form or direct object form. In that case the dative, the vocative and the ablative also come into play.

Number

The noun can be in the singular, dual, or plural. The dualis is formed by adding a suffix (-ani in the nominative, -ayni in the accusative and genitive). Substents can also have certain and indefinite forms. This distinction is made by deleting a article and adding a suffix. Multiples are not as easy to form in Arabic as in Dutch, which usually - and or - sis stuck behind the trunk. Arabian multiples can be 'healthy', which means that a suffix -uun (male) or -aat (female) is added. Many of the Arabic multiples are so-called 'broken multiples', which means that words are broken up and vowels are placed in other places. Arabic has many such multiples and often the speaker or writer can also choose from more than one form. An example of such a plural is eagles (singular: عُقَاب ('uqāb)):

عِقْبَان ('iqbān), عُقْبَان ('uqbān), أَعْـقُب (a'qub).

Influences

The languages of North India, East Africa, Iberia, Turkey and Iran have many loan words from Arabic. In many cases, however, there are modifications to the form and/or to the meaning. Some examples of Arabic loan words in Hindi:

  • The Arabic word كتاب (kitab, book) occurs in Hindi with the same pronunciation and unchanged meaning, written as किताब.
  • The Arabic شكراً (shukran, thank you) in Hindi becomes शुक्रिया: shukria.
  • The Arabic word ملك (malik, king) or مالك (malenik, ruler), becomes मालिक: malenik, with the more modest meaning "boss" or "employer".

Due to historical contacts, the Spanish vocabulary has also undergone a strong Arabic influence for centuries.

A few loan words from Arabic have become very common. The Arabic word most strongly penetrated at international level is probably qahwa ("coffee").

Dutch words that begin with all have in many cases an Arabic origin, for example algebra, alcohol, alkane, alcove and almanac. The same goes for many Spanish words that start with all. This makes sense because it is already the Arabic article. A less clear example is the 'lute', derived from al-ud, an Arabic plucked instrument. The a has therefore been dropped here.

Scientific terms and especially the names of many stars (for example Deneb, Aldebaran) come from Arabic.

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Arabic - العربية
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