DLI - Arabic Language Course - SOLT Course: Modules 1, 2

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Defense Language Institute arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) - Image The Arabic language taught in this SOLT course belongs to the Semitic branch of languages developed by the nomadic people of the Arabian Peninsula. It is related to ancient languages such as Phoenician, Akkadian, Canaanite, and Aramaic, as well as Ethiopic and Hebrew. However, Arabic is far and away the most widely spoken Semitic language today and is the national language of roughly 120 million inhabitants of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. It is also spoken in smaller Arab communities and enclaves throughout the world.

Modern Arabic is divided into a standard or classic form that represents the speech of Arabia – as written in the Koraan and as represented in the Bible (which was written in either Hebrew or Greek) by the 7th century AD. Several regional dialects serve as vernacular speech. These dialects fall into three major groups: dialects of Arabia – which are the most conservative; the Eastern dialects of Syria, Iraq and Egypt; and the Western dialects from Libya westward. The differences between dialects can be quite dramatic and, although an Iraqi can converse fairly easily with a Syrian or an Egyptian, an Iraqi would have great difficulty understanding a Moroccan because of the French influence. Because most Arabic language movies are made in Egypt, the Egyptian dialect is now widely understood throughout the Arabic world.

The first written example of Arabic proper was found in Jordan in a funerary text dated 328 AD (There are, however, much older inscriptions written in ancient languages closely related to Arabic that have been found in southern Arabia). The Arabic script developed from Nabatean and is noted for its beauty. It has two main forms: Nas kh, a cursive style used in correspondence and books, and Kufi, an angular, decorative style. The Koran, delivered by Prophet Muhammed between about 610 and 632 AD, is the Holy Book of Islam. Muslims consider it to be the divine and final word of Allah. Its literary influence, aside from its religious message, has been enormous. Its style, vocabulary and
grammar form the basis of all standard or classical Arabic and most of the rich traditions ofArabic poetry and literature have remained remarkably close to the language of the Koran.

All Muslims are familiar with elements of formal Arabic from the Koran, but only educated Arabs can read and write it with ease.

After the conversion of the people of the Arabian Peninsula to Islam, a number of powerful Arabic empires spread their political influence into the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At times, these empires spread as far west as Spain and as far to the east as India, spreading the Arabic language over a vast area. Arabic architecture, music, literature and culture, along with the religion of Islam, were also widely spread during the expansion of Arab political influence.

Modern Standard Arabic has developed out of Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran. During the era of the caliphate,Classical Arabic was the language used for all religious, cultural, administrative and scholarly purposes.

Modern Standard Arabic is the official Arabic language. It can be written and spoken, and there is no difference between the written and the spoken form.

In its written form, Modern Standard Arabic is the language of literature and the media. Books, newspapers, magazines, official documents, private and business correspondence, street signs and shop signs - all are written in Modern Standard Arabic.

Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD. This includes both the literary language and varieties of Arabic spoken in a wide arc of territory stretching across the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the spoken varieties are mutually unintelligible, both written and orally, and the varieties as a whole constitute a sociolinguistic language. This means that on purely linguistic grounds they would likely be considered to constitute more than one language, but are commonly grouped together as a single language for political and/or ethnic reasons (see below). If considered multiple languages, it is unclear how many languages there would be, as the spoken varieties form a dialect chain with no clear boundaries. If Arabic is considered a single language, it perhaps is spoken by as many as 280 million first language speakers, making it one of the half dozen most populous languages in the world. If considered separate languages, the most-spoken variety would most likely be Egyptian Arabic, with 54 million native speakers still greater than any other Semitic language.

Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) is spoken in: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Palestine

Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic) has no known alternate names.

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