Like many languages in the world, Arabic has many different varieties that are important to distinguish. But which type(s) should you learn?
This is the language of the Qur’an and old Arabic writings in general. This variety of Arabic is almost always fully vocalized, meaning that all vowels are written into the writing. I would only recommend this variety of the language if reading religious texts or quite old literature is something that you plan on doing.
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)
MSA is the modern written Arabic language that is mainly used in schools, business, the news, and for cross-border communication between Arabic speaking countries. My understanding of MSA is that most Arabs, especially those with an education, will understand spoken MSA. This is the type of Arabic that I am working with and what is most often taught to non-native speakers. MSA is also somewhat mutually intelligible with Classical Arabic, but some vocabulary and grammar has been modernized. MSA gives a good foundation for vocabulary and grammar, even if it is a bit formal.
The third variety of Arabic is local dialects. Each Arabic country has its own spoken colloquial dialect of Arabic. These dialects are often classified by region as well as the individual country.
Some of the most common are:
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Gulf Arabic: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar
Almost all of these dialects are spoken, and MSA is used for writing.
My advice would be to pick one that you like or have a reason to learn. I have a lot of interest in either Egyptian or Lebanese Arabic.
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