Arabic (اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ, al-ʿarabiyyah [al ʕaraˈbijːa] (listen) or عَرَبِيّ, ʿarabīy [ˈʕarabiː] (listen) or [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE. It is the lingua franca of the Arab world and the liturgical language of Islam. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe people living in the Arabian Peninsula bounded by eastern Egypt in the west, Mesopotamia in the east, and the Anti-Lebanon mountains and northern Syria in the north, as perceived by ancient Greek geographers. The ISO assigns language codes to 32 varieties of Arabic, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, also referred to as Literary Arabic, which is modernized Classical Arabic. This distinction exists primarily among Western linguists; Arabic speakers themselves generally do not distinguish between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic, but rather refer to both as al-ʿarabiyyatu l-fuṣḥā (اَلعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ "the eloquent Arabic") or simply al-fuṣḥā (اَلْفُصْحَىٰ).
|Native to||Countries of the Arab League, minorities in neighboring countries and some parts of Asia, Africa, Europe|
|Ethnicity||Arabs and several peoples of the MENA region (as a result of language shift)|
|450 million, all varieties (2011–2020)|
Over 200 million L2 speakers of Modern Standard Arabic
|Signed Arabic (different national forms)|
Official language in
Dispersion of native Arabic speakers as the majority (dark green) or minority (light green) population
Use of Arabic as the national language (green), as an official language (dark blue) and as a regional/minority language (light blue)
Arabic is widely taught in schools and universities around the world and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, governments and the media. Arabic, in its Modern Standard Arabic form, is an official language of 26 states and 1 disputed territory, the third most after English and French; it is also the liturgical language of the religion of Islam, since the Quran and the Hadiths were written in Classical Arabic.
During the early Middle Ages, Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in the Mediterranean region, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages—mainly Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Catalan, and Sicilian—owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arabized civilizations and the long-lasting Muslim culture and Arabic language presence, mainly in Southern Iberia, during the Al-Andalus era. For example, "Algebra" comes from the Arabic word "al-jabr", which was then transferred to Middle English. The Maltese language is a Semitic language developed from a dialect of Arabic and written in the Latin alphabet. The Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have also acquired a significant number of words of Arabic origin through contact with Ottoman Turkish.
Arabic has influenced many other languages around the globe throughout its history, especially languages of Muslim cultures and countries that were conquered by Muslims. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu), Kashmiri, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Maldivian, Pashto, Punjabi, Albanian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Sicilian, Spanish, Greek, Bulgarian, Tagalog, Sindhi, Odia Hebrew and Hausa and some languages in parts of Africa (e.g. Swahili, Somali). Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Aramaic as well as Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Persian and to a lesser extent Turkish (due to the Ottoman Empire), English and French (due to their colonization of the Levant) and other Semitic languages such as Abyssinian.