Modern Standard Arabic
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Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or Modern Written Arabic (shortened to MWA), terms used mostly by Western linguists, is the variety of
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes un ...
,
literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mim ...
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
that developed in the
Arab world The Arab world ( ar, العالم العربي '), formally the Arab homeland ( '), also known as the Arab nation ( '), the Arabsphere, or the Arab states, consists of the 22 Member states of the Arab League, Arab countries which are members of ...
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; occasionally, it also refers to spoken Arabic that approximates this written standard. MSA is the language used in
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expand ...

literature
,
academia An academy (Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek language, Greek dialect of the regions of ancient Greece, ancient region of Attica, including the ''polis'' of classical Athens, Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige (sociolin ...
, print and
mass media Mass media refers to a diverse array of media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for ...
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, ...
and
legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgating law by a legislature, parliament, or analogous Government, governing body. Before an item of legislation becomes law i ...
, though it is generally not spoken as a
first language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period hypothesis, critical period. In so ...
, similar to
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin, Latin language recognized as a Literary language, literary standard language, standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was used from 75 BC to the 3rd century AD, when it deve ...
. It is a pluricentric standard language taught throughout the Arab world in
formal education Formal learning is education normally delivered by trained teachers in a systematic intentional way within a school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of stu ...
, differing significantly from many
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language A first language, native tongue, native langua ...
varieties of Arabic The varieties (or dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * ...
that are commonly spoken as mother tongues in the area; these are only partially mutually intelligible with both MSA and with each other depending on their proximity in the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language variety, language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separ ...
. Western linguists consider MSA to be distinct from
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, ...
(CA; )—the variety of standard Arabic in the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
and early Islamic (7th to 9th centuries)
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expand ...
. MSA differs most markedly in that it either synthesizes words from Arabic roots (such as ''car'' or ''steamship'') or adapts words from European languages (such as ''workshop'' or ''Internet'') to describe
industrial Industrial may also refer to: Industry * Industrial archaeology, the study of the history of the industry * Industrial engineering, engineering dealing with the optimization of complex industrial processes or systems * Industrial loan company, a f ...
and
post-industrial In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, e ...
life. Native speakers of Arabic generally do not distinguish between "Modern Standard Arabic" and "Classical Arabic" as separate languages; they refer to both as () meaning "the eloquent Arabic".Alaa Elgibali and El-Said M. Badawi. ''Understanding Arabic: Essays in Contemporary Arabic Linguistics in Honor of El-Said M. Badawi'', 1996. Page 105. They consider the two forms to be two registers of one language. When the distinction is made, they are referred to as ' (MSA) and ' (CA) respectively.


History


Classical Arabic

Classical Arabic, also known as Quranic Arabic (although the term is not entirely accurate), is the language used in the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
as well as in numerous literary texts from
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the U ...
and
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
times (7th to 9th centuries). Many Muslims study Classical Arabic in order to read the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
in its original language. It is important to note that written Classical Arabic underwent fundamental changes during the early Islamic era, adding dots to distinguish similarly written letters, and adding the ''tashkīl'' (diacritical markings that guide pronunciation) by
Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali Abu or ABU may refer to: Places * Abu (volcano) is the name of a group of shield volcanoes located on the coast of Japan on the southwest end of the island of Honshū. It is primarily based in the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi, Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefect ...
,
Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi Abu ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān al-Khalīl ibn Aḥmad ibn ‘Amr ibn Tammām al-Farāhīdī al-Zahrāni al-Azdī al-Yaḥmadī ( ar, أبو عبدالرحمن الخليل بن أحمد الفراهيدي الزهراني; 718 – 786 CE), known as Al-F ...
, and other scholars. It was the lingua franca across the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Organi ...

Middle East
,
North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's ...

North Africa
, and the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland fro ...

Horn of Africa
during classic times and in
Andalusia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost autonomous community eu, autonomia erkidegoa ca, comunitat autònoma gl, comunidade autónoma oc, comunautat autonòma an, comunidat autonoma ast, comunidá autónoma , alt_name ...
before classic times.


Emergence of Modern Standard Arabic

Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
's campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801) is generally considered to be the starting point of the modern period of the Arabic language, when the intensity of contacts between the Western world and Arabic culture increased. Napoleon introduced the first Arabic
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a printing, print medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. It marked a dramatic improvement on earlier printing methods in whi ...
in Egypt in 1798; it briefly disappeared after the French departure in 1801, but
Muhammad Ali Pasha Muhammad Ali Pasha al-Mas'ud ibn Agha, also known as Muhammad Ali of Egypt and the Sudan (Ottoman language, Ottoman script: ; ar, محمد علي باشا, ; 4 March 1769 – 2 August 1849), was an Albanians, Albanian Ottoman Empire, Ottoman g ...
, who also sent students to Italy, France and England to study military and applied sciences in 1809, reintroduced it a few years later in
Boulaq Boulaq ( ar, بولاق, Būlāq from "guard, customs post"), is a district of Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a p ...
,
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...
. (Previously, Arabic-language presses had been introduced locally in Lebanon in 1610, and in
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 ...
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in ...

Syria
in 1702). The first Arabic printed newspaper was established in 1828: the bilingual Turkish-Arabic ''
Al-Waqa'i' al-Misriyya ''Al-Waqa'i' al-Misriyya'' ( ar, الوقائع المصريّة / ALA-LC ALA-LC ( American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standards for romanization, the representation of text in other writing system A writing syste ...
'' had great influence in the formation of Modern Standard Arabic. It was followed by ''
Al-Ahram ''Al-Ahram'' ( ar, الأهرام; ''The Pyramids''), founded on 5 August 1875, is the most widely circulating Egyptian daily newspaper, and the second oldest after ''Vekayi-i Misriye, al-Waqa'i`al-Masriya'' (''The Egyptian Events'', founded 182 ...
'' (1875) and '' al-Muqattam'' (1889). The Western–Arabic contacts and technological developments in especially the newspaper industry indirectly caused the revival of Arabic literature, or Nahda, in the late 19th and early 20th century. Another important development was the establishment of Arabic-only schools in reaction against the Turkification of Arabic-majority areas under Ottoman Empire, Ottoman rule.


Current situation

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the literary standard across the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Organi ...

Middle East
,
North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's ...

North Africa
and
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland fro ...

Horn of Africa
, and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Most printed material by the Arab League—including most books, newspapers, magazines, official documents, and reading primers for small children—is written in MSA. Varieties of Arabic, "Colloquial" Arabic refers to the many regional dialects derived from Classical Arabic spoken daily across the region and learned as a
first language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period hypothesis, critical period. In so ...
, and as second language if people speak other languages native to their particular country. They are not normally written, although a certain amount of literature (particularly plays and poetry, including songs) exists in many of them. Literary Arabic (MSA) is the official language of all Arab League countries and is the only form of Arabic taught in schools at all stages. Additionally, some members of religious minorities recite prayers in it, as it is considered the literary language. Translated versions of the Bible which are used in Arabic-speaking countries are mostly written in MSA, aside from Classical Arabic. Muslims recite prayers in it; revised editions of numerous literary texts from
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the U ...
and
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
times are also written in MSA. The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossiathe use of two distinct varieties of the same language, usually in different social contexts. This diglossic situation facilitates code-switching in which a speaker switches back and forth between the two dialects of the language, sometimes even within the same sentence. People speak MSA as a third language if they speak other languages native to a country as their first language and colloquial Arabic dialects as their second language. Modern Standard Arabic is also spoken by people of Arab descent outside the Arab world when people of Arab descent speaking different dialects communicate to each other. As there is a prestige or standard dialect of vernacular Arabic, speakers of standard colloquial dialects code-switch between these particular dialects and MSA. Classical Arabic is considered normative; a few contemporary authors attempt (with varying degrees of success) to follow the syntactic and grammatical norms laid down by classical grammarians (such as Sibawayh) and to use the vocabulary defined in classical dictionaries (such as the ''Lisan al-Arab'', ar, لِسَان الْعَرَب). However, the exigencies of modernity have led to the adoption of numerous terms which would have been mysterious to a classical author, whether taken from other languages (e. g. ''film'') or coined from existing lexical resources (e. g. ''hātif''  "caller" > "telephone"). Structural influence from foreign languages or from the vernaculars has also affected Modern Standard Arabic: for example, MSA texts sometimes use the format "A, B, C and D" when listing things, whereas Classical Arabic prefers "A and B and C and D", and subject-initial sentences may be more common in MSA than in Classical Arabic. For these reasons, Modern Standard Arabic is generally treated separately in non-Arab sources. Speakers of Modern Standard Arabic do not always observe the intricate rules of Classical Arabic grammar. Modern Standard Arabic principally differs from Classical Arabic in three areas: lexicon, stylistics, and certain innovations on the periphery that are not strictly regulated by the classical authorities. On the whole, Modern Standard Arabic is not homogeneous; there are authors who write in a style very close to the classical models and others who try to create new stylistic patterns. Add to this regional differences in vocabulary depending upon the influence of the local Arabic varieties and the influences of foreign languages, such as French in Africa and Lebanon or English in Egypt, Jordan, and other countries. As MSA is a revised and simplified form of Classical Arabic, MSA in terms of lexicon omitted the obsolete words used in Classical Arabic. As diglossia is involved, various Arabic dialects freely loanword, borrow words from MSA. This situation is similar to Romance languages, wherein scores of words were borrowed directly from Classical Latin, formal Latin (most literate Romance speakers were also literate in Latin); educated speakers of standard colloquial dialects speak in this kind of communication. Reading out loud in MSA for various reasons is becoming increasingly simpler, using less strict rules compared to CA, notably the i`rāb, inflection is omitted, making it closer to spoken varieties of Arabic. It depends on the speaker's knowledge and attitude to the grammar of Classical Arabic, as well as the region and the intended audience. Pronunciation of native words, loanwords, foreign names in MSA is loose, names can be pronounced or even spelled differently in different regions and by different speakers. Pronunciation also depends on the person's education, linguistic knowledge and abilities. There may be sounds used, which are missing in the Classical Arabic but may exist in colloquial varieties - consonants - , , (often realized as +), these consonants may or may not be written with special letters; and vowels - , (both short and long), there are no special letters in Arabic to distinguish between and pairs but the sounds o and e (short and long) exist in the colloquial varieties of Arabic and some foreign words in MSA. The differentiation of varieties of Arabic#phonetics, pronunciation of informal dialects is the influence from other languages previously spoken and some still presently spoken in the regions, such as Coptic language, Coptic in Egypt, French language, French, Ottoman Turkish language, Ottoman Turkish, Italian language, Italian, Spanish language, Spanish, Berber languages, Berber, Punic language, Punic or Phoenician language, Phoenician in North Africa, Himyaritic language, Himyaritic, Modern South Arabian and Old South Arabian in Yemen and Aramaic language, Aramaic in the Levant.


Phonology


Consonants


Vowels

Modern Standard Arabic, like Classical Arabic before it, has three pairs of long and short vowels: , , and : ''*'' ''Footnote:'' although not part of Standard Arabic phonology the vowels and are perceived as separate phonemes in most of modern Arabic dialects and they are occasionally used when speaking Modern Standard Arabic as part of foreign words or when speaking it with a colloquial tone. * Across North Africa and West Asia, short may be realized as before or adjacent to emphatic consonants and , , , depending on the accent. * Short can also have different realizations, i.e. . Sometimes with one value for each vowel in both short and long Vowel length, lengths or two different values for each short and long lengths. * In Egypt, close vowels have different values; short initial or medial: ,  ← instead of . * In some other particular dialects and completely become and respectively. * Allophones of and include and before or adjacent to emphatic consonants and , ; and and elsewhere. * Allophones of include ~ before or adjacent to emphatic consonants and , , , . * Allophones of include ~~ before or adjacent to emphatic consonants and , , , . * Unstressed final long are most often shortened or reduced:  → ,  → ,  → .


Differences between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic

While there are differences between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic, Arabic speakers tend to find these differences unimportant, and generally refer to both by the same name: ''al-ʻArabīyah al-Fuṣḥā'' ('the eloquent Arabic').


Differences in syntax

MSA tends to use simplified sentence structures and drop more complicated ones commonly used in Classical Arabic. Some examples include reliance on verb sentences instead of noun phrases and semi-sentences, as well as avoiding phrasal adjectives and accommodating feminine forms of ranks and job titles.


Differences in terminology

Because MSA speech occurs in fields with novel concepts, including technical literature and scientific domains, the need for terms that did not exist in the time of CA has led to coining new terms. Arabic Language Academies had attempted to fulfill this role during the second half of the 20th century with neologisms with Arab roots, but MSA typically borrows terms from other languages to coin new terminology.


Differences in pronunciation

MSA includes two sounds not present in CA, particularly and , which occur in loanwords. In addition, MSA normally does not use diacritics (tashkīl) unless there is a need for disambiguation or instruction, unlike the CA found in
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or di ...

Quran
and Hadith scriptures, which are texts that demand strict adherence to exact wording. MSA also has taken on some punctuation marking from other languages.


Regional variants

MSA is loosely uniform across the Middle East as it is based on the convention of Arabic speakers rather than being a regulated language which rules are followed (that is despite the number of academies regulating Arabic). It can be thought of as being in a continuum between CA (the regulated language described in grammar books) and the varieties of Arabic, spoken vernaculars while leaning much more to CA in its written form than its spoken form. Regional variations exist due to influence from Varieties of Arabic, the spoken vernaculars. TV hosts who read prepared MSA scripts, for example in Al Jazeera, are ordered to give up national or ethnic pronunciations by changing their pronunciation of certain phonemes (e.g. the realization of the Classical ' as by Egyptians), though other traits may show the speaker's region, such as the stress (linguistics), stress and the exact value of vowels and the pronunciation of other consonants. People who speak MSA also mix vernacular and Classical in pronunciation, words, and grammatical forms. Classical/vernacular mixing in formal writing can also be found (e.g., in some Egyptian newspaper editorials); others are written in Modern Standard/vernacular mixing, including entertainment news.


Speakers

The Egyptian writer and journalist, Cherif Choubachy wrote in a critical book, that more than half of the Arabic speaking world are not Arabs and that more than 50% of Arabs in the Arabic speaking world use Literary Arabic. According to Ethnologue there are no native speakers of Modern Standard Arabic, but a total of 273,989,700 second language speakers in the world. They add that: "In most Arab countries only the well-educated have adequate proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic."Arabic, Standard
24th Edition, Ethnologue
In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, French is the language of higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), in the Gulf region it's English. Several reports mentioned that the use of Modern Standard Arabic was on the decline in the Arab world,Standard Arabic is on the decline: Here’s what’s worrying about that
May 21, 2018, Hossam Abouzahr, Atlantic Council
especially in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates where foreign workers make up more than 80% of the population and where English has become the lingua franca of commerce, media, and education.Is Arabic a dying language?
Tom Hundley, Feb. 24, 2010, MinnPost
Content in Modern Standard Arabic is also under-represented online and in literature. According to the 2017 PSB Insights#Arab Youth Survey, Arab Youth Survey done by polling firm PSB Insights, 54% of respondents (young urban Arabs aged 18 to 24) agreed with the statement: "On a daily basis, I use English more than Arabic." They were 68% in Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC countries. The New York Times reported that most Arab students of Northwestern University in Qatar and Georgetown University in Qatar did not have "professional proficiency" in Modern Standard Arabic.Battling to Preserve Arabic From English's Onslaught
D. D. Guttenplan, June 11, 2012, New York Times
* Not the only official language or not mandatory to be schooled in Arabic.


Grammar


Common phrases


See also

* Arabic language * Varieties of Arabic * Arabic literature * Arab League * Geographic distribution of Arabic * Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic * Arabic English Lexicon * Diglossia * Arabic phonology * Help:IPA/Arabic * Pluricentric language


Notes


References


Further reading

* * Holes, Clive (2004). ''Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties''. Georgetown University Press. *


External links


Modern Standard Arabic
!-- Please discuss before adding more links-->
Online Classical Arabic Reader
* Wikibooks:en:Arabic, Learn Arabic WikiBook
Yamli Editor - The Smart Arabic Keyboard (with automatic conversions and dictionary for better selections)

Rule-based analysis and generation of Modern Standard Arabic
{{Authority control Standard languages Arabic languages Diglossia Verb–subject–object languages