What is the difference between the various Arabic dialects?

There are numerous books on the market that teach 'Arabic', but few of them state which dialect. Can anyone explain what the differences are and, more importantly, how significant they are?

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  • Taivo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    If a book says it teaches "Arabic", it teaches a somewhat artificial language known as "Modern Standard Arabic". This variety of Arabic is a descendant of Classical Arabic, which is the language of the Koran, but represents something of a compromise dialect. It is no one's first language--it is learned from childhood as a second language. It is fairly easy for people in the Arabic world to learn since it is the language used in television broadcasts, in newspapers, whenever speaking to someone from a different Arabic country, etc.

    The Arabic dialects are really quite different from one another, especially Maltese. These differences are phonological, morphological, and syntactic--it's not just "slang". They are descended, like Modern Standard Arabic, from Classical Arabic, but over the last 1300 years they have developed into 3-8 or so different languages. Maltese is the most different and since Malta is a Christian island, the speakers of Maltese do not learn Modern Standard Arabic as a second language.

    The two main groups of "dialects" are Maghribi (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and Mashriqi (Libya and all points east). These are clearly two distinct languages and speakers cannot understand one another (unless, of course, they switch to Modern Standard Arabic). Mashriqi is either a single language with widely divergent dialects, or several very closely related languages, including Egyptian Arabic, Sudanese Arabic, Hassaniya, Najdi, Levantine Arabic, Mesopotamian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Jugari, and Judeo-Arabic. It just depends on how much mutual intelligibility one requires before calling two speech varieties dialects of a single language or different languages. Just as there is some mutual intelligibility between Swedish and Danish, there is some mutual intelligibility between the different dialects of Mashriqi. But speakers of these different Mashriqi varieties will always switch to Modern Standard Arabic when talking to one another, so they claim to understand one another. What they really understand is the different accents as they speak Modern Standard Arabic to one another and not the local Arabic language. There is some understanding between neighboring varieties of Mashriqi, but little of non-neighboring varieties. There are some good books that have been written on the different Arabic languages. If you want to learn a variety of Arabic and not Modern Standard Arabic, then you must look for grammars and dictionaries labelled specifically "Moroccan Arabic", "Gulf Arabic", "Syrian Arabic", etc.

    Source(s): I am a Linguistics professor
  • .
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Each Arab country has their own dialect Arabic simple as that,as their slang,each Arab country speaks very different dialect arabic than the other,but all can be understood since they use arabic words,its just that each Arab country have their own dialect words which they can understand,Im Lebanese and there are some words i dont understand the Egyption language.

  • 1 decade ago

    Arabic is Arabic

    Arabic dialect is a mixture of Arabic , the language of the country before its "arabisation "( like berber in the Maghreb(north Africa)), and the language of countries which colonised this Arabic country ( like french in Morocco ) .

    In general , the grammar is Arabic but the vocabulary is mix .

    In arabic countries , arabic is used for writing , in neuwspaper , at news .... and arabic students learn it at school .

    Dialect is spoken.But the majority can speak arabic also .

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