MECC: Middle East Artifact
Portrait. Persian. Private Collection, North Carolina.

Languages of the Arab World

The Levant

Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan

Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac, are all spoken in this Mediterranean region, as well as French and English which are widely spoken due to their colonial history in the area. Levantine Arabic, has many words derived from the Aramaic and Syriac, the ancient languages of this region, which are still often used in the liturgies of several Christian churches. The significant Armenian populations of the region have their own language of indo-European origin, and Kurdish is spoken by some minorities in Syria.

The Gulf States

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, and Kuwait

The native Arabic dialects of this area are the closest to Modern Standard Arabic. (Fusha), although they occasionally have a Persian influence. Often heard are dialects of the Mahri and Suqutri, which are derivatives of the ancient Sabaean language.

Egypt

The “Masri” dialect is spoken by millions of people in Egypt and understood throughout the Arab world due largely to the Egyptian film industry and media. The dialect borrows from many words including French, Greek, and Turkish.

The Maghreb

Libya, Tunisa, Morocco, and Algeria

The Arabic-speaking countries of Northern Africa have a dialect often referred to as “Derija”, which been heavily influenced by French and Spanish, as well as the native Berber populations.




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