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    The basics of Arabic

    The Basics of Arabic
    Rules of Transliteration
    This is Arabic
    01 Hello & Goodbye
    02 Counting
    03 Meeting People
    04 In the Hotel
    05 In the Restaurant
    06 Writing Arabic Part I
    07 Writing Arabic Part II
    08 Writing Arabic Part III
    09 Writing Arabic Part IV
    10 My Name is Issam
    10B Word List
    11 Local Coffee Shop
    11b Word List
    12 Fixing Cars
    12b Word List
    13 Cookies
    13b Word List
    14 My Marriage
    14b Word List
    01 Bonus Vocabulary (A)
    02 Bonus Vocabulary (B)
    03 Bonus Vocabulary (C)
    04 Bonus Vocabulary (D)
    05 Bonus Vocabulary (E)



    The Basics of Arabic

    Arabic is used by around 250 million people, but is understood by up to four times more among Muslims around the world. Arabic is also central to other languages in the Muslim world, as a large exporter of words and expressions. Arabic writing is also used for other languages like Persian and Urdu.



    Arabic is a language divided into 3 separate groups: Classical written Arabic; written Modern Standard Arabic; and spoken Arabic.

    Classical written Arabic is principally defined as the Arabic used in the Quran and in the earliest literature from the Arabian peninsula, but also forms the core of much literature up until our time.

    Modern Standard Arabic is a modernization of the structures of classical Arabic, and includes words for modern phenomenon's as well as a rich addition from the many dialects spoken all over the Arabic world.

    Spoken Arabic is a mixed form, which has many variations, and often a dominating influence from local languages (from before the introduction of Arabic). Differences between the various variants of spoken Arabic can be large enough to make them incomprehensible to one another. Hence it could be correct to refer to the different versions as separate languages named according to their areas, like Moroccan, Cairo Arabic, North Syrian Arabic etc.

    Arabic also has a dimension of being a sacred language, as it is the only language from which the Quran is believed to be fully understood all translations will reduce the quality of the revelations of God.

    Arabic is based upon a very strict grammar, in which nearly all nouns and verbs are built from a stem of 3 consonants. From these 3 consonants, a large range of words are derived — there are 10 forms of verbs, there are a number of nouns which can be both feminine and masculine. As an example, s-l-m is the root of the words Islam, muslim, salam (peace), salama (safety), in addition to many others.

    Arabic grammar is fairly simple compared to Western languages, but the language has a richness in its used vocabulary that exceeds most languages in the Western world.



    Arabic writing is an alphabetic script, based upon distinct characters, adjoined to other characters, which in most cases change their looks depending on where they stand in the word. The Arabic alphabet developed from Nabatean characters, one of the West Aramaic languages of the ancient Middle East.

    Arabic alphabet

    Arabic writing is put together of 28 signs, where 3 have vowel qualities (a, i, u, but i is often used for the letter y, and u often for the letter w). Since some regions of the Arabic world have different dialects, extra letters have been added. The sounds that are not covered by standard Arabic are: p, g, v. These are written almost like the letter that comes closest in standard Arabic, but with an extra dot.

    The following Arabic letters does not have any correspondence in the Latin alphabet: kh (equals German ch), gh (a softer version of kh), cayn (guttural stop, but clearly pronounced from the back of the throat), th (as in English), dh (softer version of th), sh (as in English) and strong and emphasized versions of the letters t, d, s, z, h.

    One letter, called hamza, is not even pronounced, other than as a stop. In transcriptions it is marked with a ' only.

    Vowels are not letters, only signs added to the letter preceding them. In most cases the vowels are not written, so that the name 'Muhammad' is written 'mhmd'. The vowels are normally only indicated in special cases, like where there is doubt about the correct meaning of the word, and in reading books for school children. There are also "long" vowels, and these are written, and in transcriptions they are marked with lines over or under the letter. Due to limited fonts on computers, this encyclopaedia writes such letters like this: ā, ī, ū.

    There are 3 declensions (nominative, accusative, genitive), and 2 tenses (perfect and imperfect). In general, sentences are built up as verb-subject-object constructions.

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    “Don't be humiliated and ask for peace, while you are on the Uppermost and Allah is with you.”

    (Muhammad, 47:35)


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