ARABIC ranks sixth in the world’s league table of languages, with an estimated 186 million native speakers. As the language of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, it is also widely used throughout the Muslim world. It belongs to the Semitic group of languages which also includes Hebrew and Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia.

There are many Arabic dialects. Classical Arabic – the language of the Qur’an – was originally the dialect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. An adapted form of this, known as Modern Standard Arabic, is used in books, newspapers, on television and radio, in the mosques, and in conversation between educated Arabs from different countries (for example at international conferences).

Local dialects vary, and a Moroccan might have difficulty understanding an Iraqi, even though they speak the same language.

Arabic personal names
The components of names – abu, ibn, etc. How they are used and what they mean.

Alternative Arabic Dictionary
This lists the words that respectable dictionaries leave out. Not for anyone who is easily offended.

How to write your name in Arabic
A French site showing 167 first names written in the Arabic script. Includes some English names.

Names of Arabic origin
Mainly refers to place names in Spain, Portugal and the Americas.

Arabic Language Academy
The idea of maintaining linguistic standards, through an Arab equivalent of the French Academy, has been around since the 19th century. Report by ArabicNews.

Major languages of the world
(Number of native speakers)

1. Mandarin Chinese 836,000,000
2. Hindi 333,000,000
3. Spanish 332,000,000
4. English 322,000,000
5. Bengali 189,000,000
6. Arabic 186,000,000
7. Russian 170,000,000
8. Portuguese 170,000,000
9. Japanese 125,000,000
10. German 98,000,000
11. French 72,000,000
12. Malay 50,000,000


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