‘Asalamu Alaikum’ roughly translated as Peace be Upon you-is the well-known Arabic way of greeting one another in what is a vibrant language full of expression.
Arabic is one of the oldest languages existing and is the native language of The Middle East and North Africa. It has been listed as the official language for 27 countries, with approximately 300 million native speakers and is the fifth most spoken language in the world. There is also a huge Arabic diaspora spread between a variety of countries, such as Brazil, U.S.A, France, U.K. and Germany to name a few. These are figures that cannot be ignored.
The language first arose from the region of Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the BC period. However, there is no conclusive proof as to when the Arabic language, which is also described as a Semitic language, developed. The language expanded and spread to other countries with the spread of Islam starting from the 7th century. It became a mother language for many other languages like Hindi, Urdu and Persian who have taken many words from the Arabic language.
In addition and without a doubt, the Arabic language had a strong impact on several European countries/cultures, especially in spreading important ideas in the fields of Science, Mathematics and of course Philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed a few words from the Arabic. This is evident in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Malta and in Sicily. The Arabs ruled over parts of Spain for almost 800 years and therefore, the Arabic influence in Spain within their culture and language is particularly strong and the Spanish language contains several Arabic words within their own vocabulary.
Originally, Arabic comprised of three parts; classical Arabic, modern Arabic and colloquial or dialectical Arabic. The first is the language used in the Quran and used in religious texts and literature, the second comes into play in recent times and is most widely accepted whilst the last one denotes local or regional influences on the language. The pronunciations undergo changes from speaker to speaker, depending on the region they are confined to.
The Arabic script itself is beautiful and is often used in artwork. Arabic poetry itself is well renowned as one of the richest forms of poetry in the world due to the depth and variety of words available to express feelings and ideas. It is interesting to know that Arabic is written and thus read from right to left contrary to the majority of languages around the world. This will be a challenge for those keen on learning the language.