Arabic language: The unique style and mystery within

Education 14 Feb 2021 Tamalika Basu
Featured
Arabic language

Being the fourth most spoken language in the world following English and French, the Arabic language history deserves true attention. One noteworthy thing about Arabic is that it is one of the last members of the Semitic family that are still alive, besides Hebrew. The Arabic language has specific characteristics that make it unique compared to other languages. Such as the three-character root of words. Spoken by nearly 300 million people around the world, it was influenced by other languages. And thus went through some changes. It went from being a communication language to being a language of commerce, science, art, and many more.

The roots of Arabic Language

Arabic was born during the first millennium CE, as a part of the Semitic languages. In what’s known today as Iraq. When the Quran was revealed, by that time the Arabic language was fully developed. In the aftermath of numerous Arab migration waves, the language reached other zones. Such as the Middle East and North Africa, even to Andalus. Seen as a language of expression, the Arabs saw themselves as privileged and others as “Ajam”. Or those who don’t know Arabic, thus, don’t know how to self-express themselves. The language flourished when pre-Islamic poets started using it for their poems. One of the major works with the Arabic language is Al Mu’allaqat (the Hung), meaning poems that were hung on Quabaa’s walls in Macca.

Characteristics of Arabic Language

Being referred to as the “language of Dad”, the language was so unique since it had that one special characteristic, which is the three-character roots of words. This root can coin hundreds of new words, verbs, and nouns. And that’s one of the reasons why Arabic has a deep treasure of words, nearly 80,000 in the 14th century compared to 40,000 in English during the 18th century. The Arabic language has 28 characters, and most interestingly, it is written from right to left with a variety of styles.

The most famous style is the Persian one. In art, Arabic is one of the most famous when it comes to calligraphy. Due to the precision of Arabic, more than 30% of words were borrowed from other languages. As a result of vast migrations and the spread of Arabic that was accompanied by it, local dialects of Arabic were born. For instance, Khaliji and Egyptian dialects are straightforward examples, however, the purest spoken dialect was that of Quraish in Mecca.

Language’s development

By the 16th century, Arabic spread throughout the world, reaching Venice, China, and Italy. At that time, Arabic transformed from benign a language for pre-Islam poems to being a language of knowledge. Millions of books were written in Arabic and tackled ideas from philosophy, science, religion, and others. As non-Arabs, they translated the Arabic books into Greek, Persian, and other languages to advance the language even further. As a result, Arabic became a language of commerce, science, and art that made Europeans use Arabic words for centuries. Among these words are alcohol, alchemy, algorithm, and many more. Over time, churches started adopting Arabic as their official language, as well as, Arab jews. Later, with the spread of printings and magazines in Arabic, the language became used immensely by everyone.

Drawbacks

After the numerous invasions by the half of Mongols, crusaders, and the Ottomans that brought with them their own words and dialects, Arabic was negatively affected. These forces were close to destroying the deep lexicons of the language but they didn’t succeed. In addition to that, the spread of the internet, tv-series, magazines, and others that adopted English as the main language made Arabic suffer to attain its high position. However, a bright side of the story is the UNESCO celebration on the 18th of December of the Arabic language to encourage its speakers to further appreciate it.

 

(Written by freelancer Yara Lotfy)