A is for Arabic

A is forArabic is the name given to the languages spoken by about 221 million people in several countries in northern Africa and in the Middle East. Note use of the word languages, in the plural, since it actually comprises over 30 dialects which are so different that an Arabic speaker in Morocco would struggle to understand an Arabic speaker in Iraq. The most common of the dialects is Egyptian.

There are two standardised forms of Arabic which are understood by all speakers, regardless of their dialect. One of these forms is Classical Arabic, the language of the Qu’uran; the other is Modern Standard Arabic, which is the language used by politicians and the media. This is language learnt by people who study Arabic as a foreign language

It is written from right to left, although numbers are written from left to right. It has 28 letters which have four different forms depending on whether the letter appears at the beginning, middle or end of the word, or in isolation.

Arabic has given us several words especially ones to do with mathematics, such as algebra, cypher and zero.

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