Alternative name(s): arabe (fr), Arabisch (nl), arabiska (sv)
Language family: Afro-Asian
Language Group: Semitic
Geographical use: Algeria, Bahrain, on the Comores, on Cyprus, in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Kazachstan, Kuwait, Kyrgizia, Lebanon, Lybia, on the Maledives, in Morocco, Mauretania, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi-Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, northern Chad, Tunesia, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates
earliest Arabic inscriptions date from the 4th century AD but it is
generally accepted that the language was in use in 5th century BC.
Arabic comes into two versions: the classical and everyday version.
Classical Arabic is the holy language of the islam and is the lingua franca of the
higher classes. Everyday Arabic is used on the radio, television and in
mosks. There are several dialects that differ from standard Arabic
through their pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.
Arabic has 28 consonants and three vowels. Each vowel has a short and long form. Each Arabic word is based on a root that usually consists out of three consonants. These root sounds are combined with different vowels in order to form nouns and verbs. For example: the borrowed term bank has the root b-n-k.
The word order in an Arabic sentence is usually verb-subject-object. In theory the word ending will tell you what function the word has in the sentence. In practice this is only applied in schoolbooks, as well as in the Koran so as to avoid misunderstandings. In all other Arabic texts these endings –usually short vowels- are omitted. The Arabic writing knows no separate signs for these vowels. It uses small punctuation marks just above and below the vowels to express them.
Arabic has no capital letters.