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The Arabic language

Introduction

ARABIC ranks sixth in the world's league table of languages, with an estimated 186 million native speakers. As the language of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, it is also widely used throughout the Muslim world. It belongs to the Semitic group of languages which also includes Hebrew and Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia.

There are many Arabic dialects. Classical Arabic – the language of the Qur'an – was originally the dialect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. An adapted form of this, known as Modern Standard Arabic, is used in books, newspapers, on television and radio, in the mosques, and in conversation between educated Arabs from different countries (for example at international conferences). 

Local dialects vary, and a Moroccan might have difficulty understanding an Iraqi, even though they speak the same language


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