Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Arabic Today

Arabic As It is Today

Arabic the fifth widely spoken language. It is the official language of all the Arab countries such as the Saudi Arabia, UAE (the United Arab Emirates), Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar,  Syria, Sudan,  Tunisia,  and Yemen. It is spoken by about 360 million of native speakers and it is also the language of religion for millions of Muslims in many other countries like India, China and Indonesia. In Europe and USA, it is used by some immigrants who originated from middle east.

You may be able to see the influence of various colonial powers in different parts of the Arab world, despite the years on independent. In the Mahgreb countries of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, for instance, The influence of France is still very much in evidence in its former colony like Mahgrebi, Algeria and Morocco. British interests were evident in Egypt, Iraq and Jordon.

During the oil-boom period of 1970s, big number of Arabs from the gulf states came to setup business in UK. As they were bring large amount of money, they were accepted by the UK government. You can find them living in some of the affluent suburbs of London. The recent turmoil in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine hand resulted to the rise to the numbers of refugees. A survey of London schoolchildren conducted in 2000 showed that Arabic was the seventh most commonly spoken language in the capital, used by 1.23 per cent of the school population.

The emergence of an independent Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat in London give an indication of the number of local Arabic speakers.

The history of Arabic Language
Arabic has a long and successful history. It was the language of learning when the Muslims were leading in many areas. The westerners were flocking to learn from the Muslim Universities in Spain and North Africa. The situation in not unlike what it is today.
Arabic is the sacred language of Islam, is a member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. The religious conquests of the seventh century AD resulted in the spread of the language over a very wide area from the Arabian peninsula where it originated. Its grammar has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, though its vocabulary has developed to include modern elements.

A variety sometimes known as Modern Standard Arabic is used today for communication among educated people throughout the Arabic speaking world. In contrast, the colloquial Arabic used in everyday conversation varies a great deal from country to country. The Maghrebi Arabic spoken in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, for instance, is very different from the Mashriqi Arabic spoken from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.

The writing system
Arabic has been a literary language for over 1500 years. It is written from right to left. Words are very often formed by adding vowels to consonant root forms. The consonants carry the underlying meaning and the vowels grammatical information, such as parts of speech and tense.

Take, for instance, the root form kataba, meaning he has written:
many many words emerge from it.
kitab -- a book
aktob--please write
katib -- a writer
maktab-- an office

The heavy reliance on the consonant roots of words has given rise to writing systems consisting largely of consonants. The letters are given the markings to indicate the sound if it. There are seven basic markings, above, below, front and the double of each. These markings enable Quran to be easily read, but of course without the understanding of it.

Most letters change its form according to their position - initial, medial, final or isolated. Another characteristic is that, the letters can be joined together even though they are of different words.    

Calligraphy is a highly venerated art form, providing a link between the Arabic language and the Islamic religion. Proverbs and passages from the Qu'ran are often important sources for calligraphic art.

Arab names
Arab and Muslims do not posses a surname. They have adopted the western system just to satisfy the requirements of filling the forms in some countries. Let us see how the system work.

Grandfather   - Abbas Ausama Ali
Father -Tahir Abbas Ausama
Son - Salam Tahir Abbas
Daughter      - Fateema Tahir Abbas

The child's personal name is followed by the father's and grandfather's personal names. Alternatively, in states such as Oman, bin (son of) or bint (daughter of) is inserted before the father's and grandfather's names which, in turn, are followed by a family name starting with Al - (e.g. Salam bin Tahir bin Abbas Almoharby, Fateema bint Tahir bin Abbas Almoharby).

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