Arabic alphabet ('alifbā 'al˂rbīya)

Arabic

The Arabic script evolved from the Nabataean Aramaic script. It has been used since the 4th century AD, but the earliest document, an inscription in Arabic, Syriac and Greek, dates from 512 AD. The Aramaic language has fewer consonants than Arabic, so during the 7th century new Arabic letters were created by adding dots to existing letters in order to avoid ambiguities. Further diacritics indicating short vowels were introduced, but are only generally used to ensure the Qur'an was read aloud without mistakes.

There are two main types of written Arabic:

  1. Classical Arabic - the language of the Qur'an and classical literature. It differs from Modern Standard Arabic mainly in style and vocabulary, some of which is archaic. All Muslims are expected to recite the Qur'an in the original language, however many rely on translations in order to understand the text.
  2. Modern Standard Arabic (اللغة العربية الفصحى / al-luġatu l-ʿarabiyyatu l-fuṣḥā) - the universal language of the Arabic-speaking world which is understood by all Arabic speakers. It is the language of the vast majority of written material and of formal TV shows, lectures, etc.

Each Arabic speaking country or region also has its own variety of colloquial spoken Arabic. These colloquial varieties of Arabic appear in written form in some poetry, cartoons and comics, plays and personal letters. There are also translations of the bible into most varieties of colloquial Arabic.

Arabic has also been written with the Hebrew, Syriac and Latin scripts.

Notable Features

Arabic script

Arabic consonants

Arabic consonants

The transliteration of consonants used above is the ISO version of 1984. There are various other ways of transliterating Arabic.

This chart shows how the letters change in different positions

Different forms of Arabic consonants

Arabic vowel diacritics and other symbols

Arabic vowel diacritics and other symbols

Download

Download an Arabic alphabet chart in Word or PDF format

Arabic numerals and numbers

These numerals are those used when writing Arabic and are written from left to right. In Arabic they are known as "Indian numbers" (أرقام هندية arqa-m hindiyyah). The term 'Arabic numerals' is also used to refer to 1, 2, 3, etc.

Arabic numerals and numbers

The Arabic language

Arabic is a Semitic language with about 221 million speakers in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Palestinian West Bank & Gaza, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

There are over 30 different varieties of colloquial Arabic which include:

For a full list of all varieties of colloquial Arabic click here (format: Excel, 20K).

Source: www.ethnologue.com

Sample Arabic text (unvocalised)

Sample text in Arabic (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample Arabic text (vocalised)

Sample text in Arabic (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Transliteration

Yūladu jamī'u n-nāsi aḥrāran mutasāwīna fī l-karāmati wa-l-ḥuqūq. Wa-qad wuhibū 'aqlan wa-ḍamīran wa-'alayhim an yu'āmila ba'ḍuhum ba'ḍan bi-rūḥi l-ikhā'.

Listen to a recording of this text by زين العابدين شبيب (Zein Al-A'bideen Shabeeb)

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Arabic | Phrases in Arabic | Tower of Babel in Arabic | Arabic links | Arabic learning materials | Books about the Arabic script | Arabic electronic dictionaries and translators

Links

Learn Arabic online with ArabicPod101
Arabic Genie - a quick and easy way to learn the Arabic alphabet
Learn Arabic quickly and easily with Rocket Arabic

Arabic Translation
Arabic Translation
of names and phrases

Online Arabic lessons
http://www.arabic2000.com/school/
http://i-cias.com/babel/arabic/
http://areg.amaksoud.com
http://mylanguages.org/learn_arabic.php
http://www.madinaharabic.com
http://arabicspeaker.blogspot.com
http://www.arabiccomplete.com
http://www.arabic-alphabet.org
http://www.naturalarabic.com
http://www.dalilusa.com/arabic_course/intro.asp
http://www.languageshome.com/English-Arabic.htm
http://www.arabicsp.com
http://www.eaalim.com
http://www.arabicpod.net
http://www.arabic-studio.com
http://www.ArabicOnline.eu
https://www.glovico.org/en/arabic
http://www.laflwsp.com
http://www.criticallanguageservice.com/about-us/youtube-videos
http://www.learnarabic.com

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Varieties of Arabic

Modern Standard, Algerian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Syrian

Semitic languages

Akkadian, Amharic, Arabic (Algerian), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Lebanese), Arabic (Modern Standard), Arabic (Moroccan), Arabic (Syrian), Aramaic, Argobba, Assyrian / Neo-Assyrian, Canaanite, Chaha, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Ge'ez, Hadhramautic, Hebrew, Himyaritic, Jewish Neo-Aramaic, Maltese, Mandaic, Nabataean, Neo-Mandaic, Phoenician, Punic, Qatabanic, Sabaean, Sabaic, Silt'e, Syriac, Tigre, Tigrinya, Turoyo, Ugaritic, Western Neo-Aramaic

Languages written with the Arabic script

Arabic (Algerian), Arabic (Egyptian), Arabic (Lebanese), Arabic (Modern Standard), Arabic (Moroccan), Arabic (Syrian), Äynu, Azeri, Baluchi, Beja, Bosnian, Brahui, Chechen, Crimean Tatar, Dari, Gilaki, Hausa, Kabyle, Karakalpak, Konkani, Kashmiri, Kazakh, Khowar, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Malay, Marwari, Mandekan, Mazandarani, Morisco, Pashto, Persian/Farsi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Salar, Saraiki, Shabaki, Sindhi, Somali, Tatar, Tausūg, Turkish, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek

Consonant alphabets (Abjads)

Ancient Berber, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandaic, Manichaean, Middle Persian, Nabataean, Parthian, Phoenician, Paleo-Hebrew, Proto-Sinaitic / Proto-Canaanite, Psalter, Punic, Sabaean, Samaritan, Sogdian, South Arabian, Syriac, Tifinagh, Ugaritic


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