Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The second-most widely used alphabet around the world

Accidentally bumping into an Arabic script, one almost never thinks about that somebody is as familiar with that alphabet as we are with Latin. Yet this is the fact in case of not only minorities but masses!

Arabic is the second-most widely used alphabet around the world (according to Enclopaedia Britannica). Only Latin surmounts to it, which we've already known. Thus if we get learned Arabic alphabet, then we're ready with a remarkable percentage of the world.

Although Arabic is a Semitic language, using Arabic alphabet not only Semitic languages can be written, but also among others Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Malay, Hausa, Swahili, Panjabi, Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Azerbaijani, and Kurdish. Moreover the Jews living in diaspora often wrote Hebrew, and the Ottoman empire used to write Turkish language with it. The list is far from being complete.

In fact, the Arabic script with minor additions is suitable to represent any language. For instance in Europe it was also used to write Portuguese, Spanish, Albanian, Bosnian, Polish (Tatar minority), and Romanian language.

It even fits to write English. For example if we would write "Light comes from the East", it could appear as:
لايْت كَامْز فْرَم ذْ إِيسْت
Of course, there's no standard spelling of Arabic script for English language, hence a slightly different spelling could also be used. But probably anybody - who got used to read Arabic alphabet - could relatively easily and properly read it, depending on the language he/she speaks, even though he/she never has met English before.

There are 30 different writing systems derived from Arabic script, like Xiao’erjing (小兒經, Xiǎo'érjīng, شِيَوْ عَر دٍ) for writing Chinese, and Aljamiado for writing Romance languages (Spanish, Mozarabic, Ladino).

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Why to learn Arabic?

The Arabic language is the cultural language of the middle-east, in fact a lingua franca, and the language of diplomacy and social affairs in all Arabic countries. It has approximately 280 million native speakers along with about 250 million non-native speakers. Accordingly this is the fifth most spoken language in the world.

Arabic influenced many other languages, like Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, and more.
Moreover almost all languages has loanwords from Arabic. In English for example among others the following words are derived from Arabic: admiral, algebra, arsenal, elixir, camphor, coffee, magazine, massage, saffron, Satan, syrup, tariff, zenith.

In the middle ages, Arabic was cultural language, the carrier of encyclopedic knowledge, like French in the 18th century. Medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy was transfered by Arabic. Its cultural significance is well illustrated by the fact, that the Arabic word كتاب "book" is used in 15 different languages with the same meaning.
Arabic plays an important role also in studying Semitic languages, for it features enormous literature and vast amount of speakers for almost 3000 years until today. It has written lexicons and grammars long ago. It is a serious help in reconstruction and resuscitation of extinct Semitic languages like Ugaritic, Akkadian, and Hebrew.

And what's probably even more important, that Arabic is liturgical language, the language of a religion. The central language of Islam as well as other religions like Arab Christians, Arab Druze, Mizrahi Jews and Iraqi Mandaeans.
Arabic is the language of the Noble Qur'an and the records about the life of Prophet Muhammad.

Note: You may realized that the author of these posts are a non-native English speaker. I tried hard to avoid mistakes, but I apologize if they happened anyway. Nevertheless I welcome any correction in email.

Analysing our motto

أَصْحَابُ العَرَبِيَّةِ جِنُّ الإِنْسِ، يُبْصِرُونَ مَا لا يُبْصِرُ غَيْرُهُم

أَصْحَابُ: masculine noun, plural, nominative case, determining noun of a construct state. Singular: صاحب. Root: صحب. Meaning: companions, fellows. In construct state this is a common Arabic phrase which expresses something or somebody who accompanies, follows or posesses the determined noun, eg. أصحاب الجنة = The inmates of Paradise.

العَرَبِيَّةِ: definite article + feminine noun, singular, genitive case, determined noun of a construct state. Root: عرب. Meaning: the Arabic (language).

جِنُّ: masculine noun, singular, nominative case, determining noun of a construct state. Root: جنن. Meaning: jinnee.

الإِنْسِ: definite article + masculine noun, singular, genitive case, determined noun of a construct state. Root: ءنس. Meaning: human, people.

يُبْصِرُونَ: imperfect verb, third person plural. Root: بصر. Meaning: they see.

مَا: particle, here: relative pronoun. Meaning: that which.

لا: particle, negative. Meaning: not, don't.

يُبْصِرُ: imperfect verb, third person singular, masculine. Root: بصر. Meaning: see.

غَيْرُهُم: masculine noun, singular, nominative case + third person plural masculine posessive pronoun suffix. Meaning: others than them.

Arab linguists prefer to use their own slightly different grammatical categories those we will discuss later.

Our motto

أَصْحَابُ العَرَبِيَّةِ جِنُّ الإِنْسِ، يُبْصِرُونَ مَا لا يُبْصِرُ غَيْرُهُم
"Those who know Arabic are jinn among humans, they can see what nobody else can." (Imam Shafii)

A formerly hidden world will reveal for those who know Arabic language. The 1400 years old scriptures will tell tales, and their stories will become alive. They will guide that person into an era, when miracles happened, and mankind received a message that shaped the world. This secret however won't appear to anybody. The privilege of its knowledge is only for those who are disposed to spend enough time and attention learning it.
Welcome to the Arabic language blog!

This blog is dedicated to the teaching of Arabic language and publishing interesting articles about it. Conform our planes we're going to publish new posts regularly, beginning with the basics but not only limited to that. Soon we launch our crash course on Arabic writing. The lessons will appear here. Check us often!