The Dialects of Arabic – Which one Should You learn?
Every language changes with the passage of time. The English language used by Shakespeare would sound archaic to modern English speakers, and the English a century before him would sound like an Alien Language. The Classical Arabic has stayed the same for 1400 hundred years, and the Modern Standard Arabic used in professional situations is very close to the Classical Arabic. But most Arabs don’t speak or even understand the Classical and Modern Standard variant of the language, they instead use one of the many dialects of Arabic language!
Why are there so many dialects?
Different variants of the Arabic language are spoken in different regions around the Arab world, i.e, in the Middle Eastern and the North African region. With the rise of Islam, the Arabic language became the official language of these regions, and the native language of the lands assimilated into Arabic speech patterns. So, the people would mix their language with the Arabic language, and speak Arabic with a touch of their own languages. Similarly when the Arabic spoken in the Arab regions occupied by the French, the French loan words became part of the Arabic dialect of those regions. So, someone from Levantine would have a hard time understanding someone who speaks the Maghribi Dialect!
The Dialects of Arabic…
The Arab dialects can be categorized into 4 major Groups
It is spoken mainly in Egypt, but most Arabs can understand it because of the popularity of Egyptian Telivision and Cinema. Learn Egyptian Colloquial.
Arabian Peninsula Group
Spoken mainly in the Arabian Gulf, it contains the Khaliji and Hijazi dialects along with the Bahraini and Yemeni one.
Spoken in the North African region and contains the Moroccon, Tunisian, Algerian and Libyan Arabic dialects. This dialect is the most distinct from all the other dialects because of its interaction with Berber and French languages.
Spoken in Sudan, Chad and Juba regions. This is the least commonly used dialect group among the mentioned groups. Despite being closer to Egypt, it is closer to the Arabic spoken in the Arabian Peninsula.
This group contains the Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese, and Palestinian dialects.
So, Which One Should I learn??
Depends on the reason you want to learn. If you live in any of the areas, or planning to visit, then you should learn one of the dialects. You can chose a language group, and learn any of the dialects within it, and you can pick up the other dialects of the same group easily.
You want to learn the language for official reasons, or to be able to read and watch the news, then the Modern Standard Arabic is your pick. If you ask an Arab about the MSA, and how many countries it is spoken in, then the answer you are going to get could be 0 or 28 depending on who you ask. It is not the language people communicate in, but it is the language the is used in all formal situations. This is also the language that connects all the Arab countries. Because if you learn a dialect, then it is possible that people you will sound like an alien in many countries.
You want to delve into Historical, Literary and Islamic works, then Classical Arabic is the best option for you. You can also learn the Modern Standard Arabic relatively easily once you master the Classical Arabic, because both the variants are very similar.
Arabian Peninsula is a tourist attraction and hosts the holy sight of Islam and round the year pilgrimage. It also has Dubai and Qatar that are known for their luxuries. It also provides lucrative Business opportunities because of the riches the region possesses.
Egyptian Dialect is popular because of its cinema, and is the most understood Arabic Dialect.
You can chose the dialects of Arabic by considering the reason you want to learn the language!
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