History UsefulNotes / ArabicLanguage

3rd Jan '18 10:59:50 PM Jormungar
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If you want to learn Arabic, you have to decide whether to go for MSA or one of the dialects (of course if you ''really'' want to become fluent, eventually you'll have to learn both). Learning Modern Standard Arabic is a good start, as all Arabs can understand it, and it lays a good foundation for picking up multiple dialects. However, you will ''not'' be able to hold a conversation with an Arab on the street. Also important: while Arab news is in MSA, Arab ''movies'' are not. Therefore if you plan to learn a lot from watching Arabic TV shows or films, MSA is not the way to go. [[note]] The one exception to this is children's media, including translations of Disney, Pixar, or Creator/DreamWorks movies. Children's books and movies remain largely in MSA in the Arab world, because they see it as one of the few opportunities in which parents can expose their children to MSA. [[/note]]

to:

If you want to learn Arabic, you have to decide whether to go for MSA or one of the dialects (of course if you ''really'' want to become fluent, eventually you'll have to learn both). Learning Modern Standard Arabic is a good start, as all Arabs can understand it, and it lays a good foundation for picking up multiple dialects. However, you will ''not'' be able to hold a conversation with an Arab on the street. Also important: while Arab news is in MSA, Arab ''movies'' are not. Therefore if you plan to learn a lot from watching Arabic TV shows or films, MSA is not the way to go. [[note]] The one exception to this is children's media, including translations of Disney, Pixar, or Creator/DreamWorks DreamWorks movies. Children's books and movies remain largely in MSA in the Arab world, because they see it as one of the few opportunities in which parents can expose their children to MSA. [[/note]]
19th Dec '17 6:06:00 AM Jormungar
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This comparative dearth of resources available to Arabic language learners makes the language even more difficult to learn, even compared to other "hard" languages like Chinese or Japanese. There are more resources available for learning Gaelic (spoken by less than a million people in Ireland) than there are for Arabic. Most resources available are for teaching MSA, followed by Egyptian dialect, and then for anything else it quickly drops to near zero.

to:

This comparative dearth of resources available to Arabic language learners makes the language even more difficult to learn, even compared to other "hard" languages like Chinese or Japanese. There are more resources available for learning Gaelic (spoken by less than a million people in Ireland) than there are for Arabic. Most resources available are for teaching MSA, followed by Egyptian dialect, and then for anything else it quickly drops to near zero.
19th Dec '17 6:01:36 AM Jormungar
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Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English. [[note]]This comparison is only used to demonstrate how Arabs ''see it,'' not to imply a similarity in actual degree. The "dialects" of English are often so similar that the word "dialect" is often used to simply mean "accent," while in Arabic the dialects are often so different as to reasonably qualify as separate languages. Basically for cultural reasons many Arabs refuse to acknowledge the depth of differences between their dialects. [[/note]]

to:

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", Arabic," and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English. [[note]]This comparison is only used to demonstrate how Arabs ''see it,'' not to imply a similarity in actual degree. The "dialects" of English are often so similar that the word "dialect" is often used to simply mean "accent," while in Arabic the dialects are often so different as to reasonably qualify as separate languages. Basically for cultural reasons many Arabs refuse to acknowledge the depth of differences between their dialects. [[/note]]
28th Nov '17 4:40:31 AM Jormungar
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Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English. [[note]]This comparison is only used to demonstrate how Arabs ''see it,'' not to imply a similarity in actual degree. The "dialects" of English are often so similar that the word "dialect" is often used to simply mean "accent," while in Arabic the dialects are often so different as to reasonably qualify as separate languages. In short, for cultural reasons many Arabs refuse to acknowledge the depth of differences between their dialects. [[/note]]

to:

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English. [[note]]This comparison is only used to demonstrate how Arabs ''see it,'' not to imply a similarity in actual degree. The "dialects" of English are often so similar that the word "dialect" is often used to simply mean "accent," while in Arabic the dialects are often so different as to reasonably qualify as separate languages. In short, Basically for cultural reasons many Arabs refuse to acknowledge the depth of differences between their dialects. [[/note]]
28th Nov '17 4:30:56 AM Jormungar
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Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English (though it must again be pointed out that English speakers often use the word "dialect" to basically mean "accent," while for Arabic speakers the "dialects" are different enough to arguably be separate languages). This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.

to:

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English. [[note]]This comparison is only used to demonstrate how Arabs ''see it,'' not to imply a similarity in actual degree. The "dialects" of English (though it must again be pointed out that English speakers are often use so similar that the word "dialect" is often used to basically simply mean "accent," while for in Arabic speakers the "dialects" dialects are often so different enough as to arguably be reasonably qualify as separate languages). This is why Arab countries have MSA as languages. In short, for cultural reasons many Arabs refuse to acknowledge the depth of differences between their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.
dialects. [[/note]]
28th Nov '17 4:21:39 AM Jormungar
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Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English (though the dialects of English are much closer than Arab dialects are to MSA). This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.

to:

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. This strange situation is due to the widespread view among Arabs that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects are all just slang. Arabs can become puzzled when someone wants to study a specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English (though the dialects of it must again be pointed out that English speakers often use the word "dialect" to basically mean "accent," while for Arabic speakers the "dialects" are much closer than Arab dialects are different enough to MSA).arguably be separate languages). This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.
4th Sep '17 5:32:52 AM Jormungar
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However learning a dialect presents its own challenges. One is because MSA is still the written form, you won't be able to read anything if you study only dialect. However another issue is that, due to their previously-mentioned low prestige, resources to learn dialects are scarce. Even study material written in Arabic is rare, nevermind written in English. There is simply very little interest in the Arab world for formally teaching dialect, whether to other Arabs or foreigners.

to:

However learning a dialect presents its own challenges. One is because MSA is still the written form, you won't be able to read anything if you study only dialect. However another issue is that, due to their previously-mentioned low prestige, resources to learn dialects are scarce. Even study material written in Arabic is rare, nevermind written in English. There is simply very little interest in the Arab world for formally teaching dialect, whether to other Arabs or foreigners.
13th Aug '17 1:52:22 AM Jormungar
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However learning a dialect presents its own challenges. One is because MSA is still the written form, you won't be able to read anything if you study only dialect. However another issue is that, due to their previously-mentioned low prestige, resources to learn dialects are scarce. Even study material written in Arabic is rare, nevermind written in English. There is simply very low interest in the Arab world for formally teaching dialect.

to:

However learning a dialect presents its own challenges. One is because MSA is still the written form, you won't be able to read anything if you study only dialect. However another issue is that, due to their previously-mentioned low prestige, resources to learn dialects are scarce. Even study material written in Arabic is rare, nevermind written in English. There is simply very low little interest in the Arab world for formally teaching dialect.dialect, whether to other Arabs or foreigners.
13th Aug '17 1:46:35 AM Jormungar
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However, this is not the Arabic that Arabs speak most of the time. They understand it, but they don't speak it. In fact, there are actually no native speakers of MSA. Instead, much like [[UsefulNotes/ChineseDialectsAndAccents Chinese]], all Arabs speak a wide variety of "dialects," many of which are only partially mutually intelligible with each other, and some not at all. Though they are grouped together for political and cultural reasons, the so-called "dialects" of Arabic would be better thought of as separate languages altogether. Many language learning courses advertise MSA as the "lingua franca" of the Arab world spoken by "220 million people," or as the fifth most spoken language in the world and so on. This is not true. If two Arabs meet who speak different dialects, almost always they will try to simply muddle through with their own dialects, or one will modify their dialect to be more like the other. Using MSA to talk about daily life would be considered weird and even comical. Even if you speak to a regular Arab in MSA, he will not respond in it - meaning you probably won't understand him.

So why is Modern Standard Arabic taught? Firstly, it is the only written form of Arabic. Dialects have no official written forms. In this sense, Arabs may be said to read in one language and speak in another. There is actually a word for this - "diglossia." Secondly, because of its association with the Quran, it remains the language of high society and the media. [[note]] There is a fun game you can play: if you want to find out where an Arab is from without asking directly, simply ask them which dialect they think is closest to Quranic Arabic. They will almost always say their own. [[/note]] Someone who understands only dialect will not be able to listen to the news, or indeed read any printed media like newspapers or books.

If you want to learn Arabic, you must take these things into account before deciding whether to learn MSA or one of the dialects (of course if you ''really'' want to become fluent, eventually you'll have to learn both). Learning Modern Standard Arabic is a good start, as all Arabs can understand it, and it lays a good foundation for picking up multiple dialects. However, you will ''not'' be able to hold a conversation with an Arab on the street. Also important: while Arab news is in MSA, Arab ''movies'' are not. Therefore if you plan to learn a lot from watching Arabic TV shows or films, MSA is not the way to go. [[note]] The one exception to this is children's media, including translations of Disney, Pixar, or Creator/DreamWorks movies. Children's books and movies remain largely in MSA in the Arab world, because they see it as one of the few opportunities in which parents can expose their children to MSA. [[/note]]

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. Why? It ties back to the peculiar views Arabs hold regarding their own dialects vs MSA. Arabs generally afford MSA a respect far beyond its practical use. For cultural and religious reasons, most Arabs consider MSA "real Arabic" and dialects as "street languages." This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.

All this seems to make the answer quite clear: learn a dialect. Except remember: dialects are the spoken forms. If you want to read or write anything, it all has to be done in MSA. [[note]]Arabs do casually communicate with each in written dialect, using various ad hoc systems of transliteration, but this is extremely colloquial and doesn't really exist outside of text messaging or comments on facebook and youtube.[[/note]] So yes, diving straight into a dialect lets you converse with regular Arabs immediately - at least, those who speak that or mutually intelligible dialects. However you'll be functionally ''illiterate'' because all the writing will be in MSA.

One other thing to mention: learning Arabic is hard not just because of the difficulties highlighted above, but because of the comparative dearth of resources available for Arab language learners, especially compared to other "hard" languages like Chinese or Japanese. There are more resources available for learning Gaelic (spoken by less than a million people in Ireland) than there are for Arabic. Most resources available are for teaching MSA, followed by Egyptian dialect, and then for anything else it quickly drops to near zero.

to:

However, this is not the Arabic that Arabs speak most of the time. They understand it, but they don't speak it. In fact, there are actually no native speakers of MSA. Instead, much like [[UsefulNotes/ChineseDialectsAndAccents Chinese]], all Arabs speak a wide variety of "dialects," many of which are only partially mutually intelligible with each other, and some not at all. Though they are grouped together for political and cultural reasons, the so-called "dialects" of Arabic would be better thought of as separate languages altogether.are only slightly more similar to each other than Dutch-German, or Italian-Spanish. Many language learning courses advertise MSA as the "lingua franca" of the Arab world spoken by "220 million people," or as the fifth most spoken language in the world and so on. This is not true. If two Arabs meet who speak different dialects, almost always they will try to simply muddle through with their own dialects, or one will modify their dialect to be more like the other.dialects. Using MSA to talk about daily life would be considered weird and even comical. Even if you speak to a regular Arab in MSA, he will not respond in it - meaning you probably won't understand him.

So why is Modern Standard Arabic taught? Firstly, is taught because it is the only written form of Arabic. Dialects have no official written forms. In this sense, Arabs may be said to read in one language and speak in another. There is actually a word for this - "diglossia." Secondly, because of its association with the Quran, it remains the language of high society and the media. [[note]] There is a fun game you can play: if you want to find out where an Arab is from without asking directly, simply ask them which dialect they think is closest to Quranic Arabic. They will almost always say their own. [[/note]] Someone who understands only dialect will not be able to listen to the news, or indeed read any printed media like newspapers or books.

If you want to learn Arabic, you must take these things into account before deciding have to decide whether to learn go for MSA or one of the dialects (of course if you ''really'' want to become fluent, eventually you'll have to learn both). Learning Modern Standard Arabic is a good start, as all Arabs can understand it, and it lays a good foundation for picking up multiple dialects. However, you will ''not'' be able to hold a conversation with an Arab on the street. Also important: while Arab news is in MSA, Arab ''movies'' are not. Therefore if you plan to learn a lot from watching Arabic TV shows or films, MSA is not the way to go. [[note]] The one exception to this is children's media, including translations of Disney, Pixar, or Creator/DreamWorks movies. Children's books and movies remain largely in MSA in the Arab world, because they see it as one of the few opportunities in which parents can expose their children to MSA. [[/note]]

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. Why? It ties back This strange situation is due to the peculiar views widespread view among Arabs hold regarding their own that only Classical Arabic (and by extension MSA) is "Real Arabic", and that dialects vs MSA. are all just slang. Arabs generally afford MSA can become puzzled when someone wants to study a respect far beyond its practical use. For cultural and religious reasons, most Arabs consider MSA "real Arabic" and specific dialect. To them, it's like someone asking to study "Texan" rather than English (though the dialects as "street languages." of English are much closer than Arab dialects are to MSA). This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.

All this seems to make However learning a dialect presents its own challenges. One is because MSA is still the answer quite clear: learn a written form, you won't be able to read anything if you study only dialect. Except remember: However another issue is that, due to their previously-mentioned low prestige, resources to learn dialects are the spoken forms. If you want to read or write anything, it all has to be done in MSA. [[note]]Arabs do casually communicate with each in scarce. Even study material written dialect, using various ad hoc systems of transliteration, but this in Arabic is extremely colloquial and doesn't really exist outside of text messaging or comments on facebook and youtube.[[/note]] So yes, diving straight into a dialect lets you converse with regular Arabs immediately - at least, those who speak that or mutually intelligible dialects. However you'll be functionally ''illiterate'' because all rare, nevermind written in English. There is simply very low interest in the writing will be in MSA.Arab world for formally teaching dialect.

One other thing to mention: learning Arabic is hard not just because of the difficulties highlighted above, but because of the This comparative dearth of resources available for Arab to Arabic language learners, especially learners makes the language even more difficult to learn, even compared to other "hard" languages like Chinese or Japanese. There are more resources available for learning Gaelic (spoken by less than a million people in Ireland) than there are for Arabic. Most resources available are for teaching MSA, followed by Egyptian dialect, and then for anything else it quickly drops to near zero.
19th May '17 1:29:14 PM Jormungar
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Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. The lack of logic in this doesn't concern them - it's respect for the language that matters. Why? It ties back to the peculiar views Arabs hold regarding their own dialects vs MSA. Arabs generally afford MSA a respect far beyond its practical use. For cultural and religious reasons, most Arabs consider MSA "real Arabic" and dialects as "street languages." This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.

to:

Most Arabs will tell foreigners that MSA is the kind of Arabic they should learn, despite the fact that this might not be the most useful. As already stated, most Arabs speak only in dialect. They will tell you, in short, to learn something they don't even speak themselves. The lack of logic in this doesn't concern them - it's respect for the language that matters. Why? It ties back to the peculiar views Arabs hold regarding their own dialects vs MSA. Arabs generally afford MSA a respect far beyond its practical use. For cultural and religious reasons, most Arabs consider MSA "real Arabic" and dialects as "street languages." This is why Arab countries have MSA as their official national language despite the fact that almost nobody speaks it in everyday life.
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