Arabic (ﺍﻟﹿﻌﹷﺮﹶﺑﻴﹽﺔ (al-ʿarabiyyah) or simply ﻋﹷﺮﹶﺑﹻﻲﹾ (ʿarabiy)) is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. Classified as Central Semitic, it is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, and has its roots in a Proto-Semitic common ancestor. Modern Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage with 27 sub-languages in ISO 639-3. These varieties are spoken throughout the Arab world, and Standard Arabic is widely studied and known throughout the Islamic world.

Modern Standard Arabic derives from Classical Arabic, the only surviving member of the Old North Arabian dialect group, attested epigraphically since the 6th century, which has been a literary language and the liturgical language of Islam since the 7th century.

Arabic has lent many words to other languages of the Islamic world, as Latin has contributed to most European languages. And in turn, it has also borrowed from those languages, as well as Persian and Sanskrit from early contacts with their affiliated regions. During the Middle Ages, Arabic was a major vehicle of culture, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy, with the result that many European languages have also borrowed numerous words from it.

This wikibook aims to teach Modern Standard Arabic, and we are always looking for contributors. So far it is in mediocre shape, and is still in its beginning stages. It is approximately 5% complete.

Advanced Details


Dialect coverage


This book teaches Arabic. Therefore its complete version must endow a person with the ability to learn enough to compete with a native Arabic speaker.

A native Arabic speaker -nowadays- must be familiar with more than one variety of Arabic. That is simply the way the Arab world is. Education requires the standard dialect. Literacy requires the standard dialect. Popular culture requires multiple other dialects. Cross-dialect conversation usually requires multiple non-standard dialects. The standard and non-standard dialects do influence each other, at least in live conversation. Therefore they are both necessary to gain access to the Arab world.

Dialect conflict and compliment


However; multiple dialects can hamper progress, because to the learner it seems like what one dialect does conflicts with how it is done in another dialect. Also; some people may want to learn Arabic in order to read and comprehend, rather than converse in it. For them non-standard dialects would be a distraction. Therefore, we have to teach standard and non-standard separately.

In order to get over this conflict, we have to present the dialects as complimentary rather than conflicting. The best way to do this that I can think of, is having a dialect chapter at the end of each unit, that teaches dialect versions of whatever was taught in the unit. That way, the dialect is covered as a sort of extra review for the unit.

Justification for Standard Arabic as base dialect


If someone really only requires one non-standard dialect (for example staying in one relatively local Arab city), then their best option is to learn the local dialect through immersion. For such people we should provide a page that gives them enough information about what all Arab dialects have in common, so that they can speed up the immersion process. Therefore we can safely use standard Arabic as the first dialect taught, and teach the other dialects as a sort of afterthought. Why? Because lessons in non-Standard Arabic are not as necessary as those in Standard Arabic, because with non-standard Arabic immersion is the best option.

As for the non-standard dialects that will be taught, the more the better. However; region of the dialect should be denoted to help people learning Arabic figure out their dialect priorities.

Dropped endings


Due to dialect influence, people can and do get away with omitting the grammatical niceties of Standard Arabic. This does not affect comprehension for the Arabs (Probably because they are used to comprehending Arabic without them from the non-Standard dialects, and also because Arabic writing omits a lot of these niceties as well). I know that, calling them grammatical niceties is a bit silly, but that is how the Arabs treat them. Therefore, we will take advantage of this fact. The romanisations will provide the grammatical niceties within brackets, to indicate that they are often silent. And these grammatical niceties will not truly be explained until they start changing (read: declining). Explanation of these grammatical phenomena will go in a chapter known as advanced grammar.



First, lessons will be made in Standard Arabic, and then a link at the bottom of each Standard lesson will link to the dialect versions. At the dialect version of the exercise, the user gains the ability to comprehend the same idea, spoken in a dialect. The student will match a recording of a dialect to the standard form, to reflect the reality that Arabs tend to write what they say in its Standard form even if they spoke it in a non-Standard form.
In summary: There will be a long series of lessons teaching how to express one idea such as "existence". These lessons will link to pages where the user learns to understand a dialect way of saying that. The more significantly different ways of saying something, the more dialect pages there should be per a lesson.

The final part will be a text-study section. Here, a wide variety of texts including unwritten text (i.e. audio) will be displayed alongside study notes, and comprehension questions. There will be multiple text sections, divided by dialect or topic.



Although, Arabic is written in script where every character written does represent a spoken sound. Lots of the sounds are not written, specifically the vowels (in writing). In reading, one is supposed to be fluent enough and literate enough for the correct vowels to just come out of your mouth, without them being written. There are actually two solutions, one is to always read Arabic silently, just looking at the words, and getting the meaning, no sub-vocalization. The other is to read without vowel endings, this is done by some people. However; there are still problems, because some words that are always pronounced differently, are actually written the same. They tend to mean completely different things. Therefore a person needs practice to read Arabic, unless all the vowels are written into the text (almost no books do that).

Vowelization lessons


The two solutions, of silent-reading and reading without final vowels, will not befit everyone. Some people will want to read with all the vowels when few if any are written in. We need to provide a unit, that teaches people how to do that.

Learn more words, you will learn how to vowelize them


This is something that can't be taught. Why? You can insert the vowels when you know the word. In some cases you can guess how to read a word, if you don't know it but know the grammar, the context and have a feeling of the language.

It's not unsimilar to Chinese and Japanese (only for words written in Kanji) where you learn the words and learn how to read them. It may sound surprisingly, but in some case these two are easier to read, since the components are reusable, and their reading is largely predictable. The Arabic reading is much easier of course, when you can speak it, the more words and situations you know, the easier it gets but you can't learn to read fluently in Arabic, if you don't understand what you are reading, that's for sure.

Cases where Arabic pronunciation is predictable (without the knowledge of the grammar and the context) are not many:

إ alif with the hamza below is always followed by kasra, so it's always "i".

ا alif in the middle of a word (excluding words after al- and one-syllable prepositions) is always pronounced with a long "aː"

وا is always "wa:"

يا is always "ya:"

ﺓ tāʾ marbūṭa‎ is always preceded by a fatḥa, so "a" should be always pronounced, followed by "-t" in non-pausal cases if the classical pronunciation is followed, otherwise, read always as "a".

Arabs themselves make mistake in vowelisation, there are variants of pronunciation of same words or the pronunciation is affected by their dialect, which may differ from MSA.

Exposure to the language


The text-study section is intended for exposure to the language. A link to Arabic media on the net (such as videos, interviews, music, news broadcasts, and whatever) will be provided. Each page of the text-study section, will have the link to the particular piece that a student should get exposed to. And underneath the link, there can be information to help the student understand the piece. For example, transcripts, translations, exercises would be useful. Ideally there should be a set of questions at the very end to test comprehension. The text study section can also have the text at the top, rather than a link to media. The goal is to give students enough text and media, so that their confidence increases in their abilities in the Arabic language.

Positions We Need to Fill


- Arabic Alphabet team:

- Lesson team:
--TwoThirty 08:48, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

- Dialect Lesson team:

- Text-study teams:

Text Display


Ideally every text would have audio along with it.

There will be three writing systems employed: Perso-Arabic with vowelization, Perso-Arabic without vowelization, and the Latin-numerical transliteration scheme.

The Latin-numerical transliteration scheme is one of the author's adaptations from the transliteration that gradually developed among youth through chat.

The Latin-numerical scheme is as follows:

2 b t t' j 7 7' d d' r z s s' 9 9' 6 6' 3 3' f q k l m n h w y

ة = et/ e
ى = a(ya)

ٍShort vowels: a i u Long vowels a' i' u'

If you have any suggestions, or you want to indicate