Arabic (العَرَبِيَّة) is a group of Semitic dialects spoken by more than 420 million people, mainly in North Africa and the Middle East. The literary form (Modern Standard Arabic, MSA) is the liturgical language for 1.6 billion Muslims and is the official written form of the language.
- The following phrasebook deals with Modern Standard Arabic. See the Egyptian Arabic phrasebook, Jordanian Arabic phrasebook, Moroccan Arabic phrasebook, Lebanese Arabic phrasebook, or Tunisian Arabic phrasebook for Arabic dialects relating to those regions/countries.
For communication purposes while traveling and using this guide, it is very important to note the differences between MSA and dialects since they are largely mutually unintelligible. Well-educated people will generally be able to understand MSA, but usually respond in their local dialects. Comprehension of dialects between different regions will drop significantly. It is therefore recommended that travelers focus on learning the relevant dialect for their destination for spoken communication, while using MSA as a written reference.
Arabic script is written in a cursive script, even in print. Most letters change their shapes depending on their position (initial, medial or final).
Pronunciation varies regionally, but here is the loose description: