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History of Arabic Language

The Arabic language, also referred to as اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ (al-arabiyyah) or عَرَبِي (arabiy), is a part of the Afro-Asiatic language family known as Semitic languages. Currently, it is considered one of the top six most commonly spoken languages around the world. As about 422 million people make use of the Arabic language, as native and non-native speakers, in their everyday lives. It is the official language of around 25 countries around the world, primarily located in the Middle East and the African region.

Arabic Language Origin:

It is widely believed that the language arose sometime during the 1st and the 40th century CE, whereas its use can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula, predominantly the Hejaz and the Nejd regions. These nomadic tribes then spread the language by traveling out of the Arabian Peninsula and further boosting its spread via the inter-regional marriages of Arabic natives with the non-native speakers. Nevertheless, the language’s massive popularity is not just due to the Arab world countries being so widespread. Instead, its deep-rooted relationship with the Muslim population, which is the second-largest religion in the world after Christianity contributes to its substantial fame. For instance, the language of the Holy Quran, the sacred book of the religion of Islam, is written in Arabic.

Arabic dialects:

Arabic is basically a diglossic language, making use of two dialects; the Standard Arabic, further divided into Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, which is the written form of the language and the Colloquial Arabic, referring to the everyday spoken language.

Emergence of Standard Arabic:

With the Arabic scripts reading from right to left and an alphabet comprising 28 consonants, the written forms of the language can be dated back to even before 622 CE. However, its use in the written form massively increased with the advent of Islam in the region of Mecca, when it became the official writing language for Islamic literature. Correspondingly, the Arabic language has prided itself on becoming standardized, as early as the 8th century CE, after which no major evolvements were made in the written form of the language. Yet, it should not be believed that the Arabic language is entirely homogenous, as the language has variants in different regions, which contrast widely with the Standard form of the Arabic language.

Arabic as the mother of languages:

For many years, a saying has been going around that Arabic is the mother of all languages. However, as the phrase has not yet been backed up by proper scientific research and studies, thus it still holds its place as just a quotation instead of being considered a universal truth. But for the people, who believe for this saying to be true, the reason they give is straightforwardly religious. According to them, Arabic was the first language ever spoken by humans, as it was the language given to humankind by God himself. This religious spectrum associated with the Arabic language makes it sacred for the ones speaking it, and near to impossible for them to make any changes to it. The ancestors of the Arabic language, with somewhat similar believes, did not try to manipulate or change the root of the Arabic language, which is the basic standing point of the language. Thus the well-preserved roots of the Arabic language also became the oldest in the history of human language. And according to the believers, these roots can be found in every language to some extent, which makes the above mentioned saying very true for them.

Influence on other languages:

The medieval times have seen some great scientists and researchers, out of which majority belonged to the Middle East, for instance, Avicenna and Ibn-al-Haytham. As the primary language spoken by these scientists was Arabic, thus Europe largely witnessed the influence of Arabic language over its regions during these times. This happening might also reason the influence of the Arabic language on the western vocabulary, as it was during these times that the European languages borrowed words from the Arabic language, which are in use to date. Additionally, the Arab conquests of states like the Chinese and North African regions, during the 7th century CE further contributed to the infiltration of the language outside of the Arab countries. This subsequently led to the emergence of the various Arabic dialects like those of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa, which are considered the leading dialect groups. To say, the Arabic language has taken the influence of many languages and regions but equally influenced a lot of vocabularies along the way.