Nowadays, the Arabic language is one of the most widespread languages belonging to a group of Semitic languages. About 300 million people use this language in their daily lives (Abu-Absi, 2012). Moreover, about 1 billion people in such countries as Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and Tanzania study the Arabic language as a foreign second language. Habeeb Salloum claims that Arabic has assumed the place of international language twice, during the Golden age of Islam and in our modern times. Due to Globalization, and the huge influence of Arab countries on the global economy, the Arabic language has become more and more widespread.
The Arabic language is classified into three types: old (or pre-classical) Arabic, classical Arabic, and modern Arabic literary language. Classical Arabic is not used in everyday speech or in writing religious texts. The Arabic language belongs to a Proto-Semitic group of languages. Almost all languages belonging to this group are dead nowadays. According to Bishop, “Modern Arabic is considered to be part of the Arabo-Canaanite sub-branch, the central group of the Western Semitic languages. (1999)” Classical Arabic is taught mainly for reading and citing Islamic religious texts. Initially, the Arabic language consisted of different dialects of tribes that lived in the central and northern regions of the Arabian Peninsula. However, these dialects were eventually transformed into literature language by poets. Their works, which became the basis of oral creativity, were shared in time and geographically, from the fathers to the children, from one tribe to another, spreading around the world and reaching the present day.
Over the following centuries, poetic Arabic was improved by scientists, educators, and intellectuals, while the common Arabic language developed under the influence of political processes, gradually covering more and more territory. Thus, in the 9th century, it spread to the territory of Palestine, North Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Syria. A little later, the power of the Arab Caliphate reached the territory of Central Asia and Iran, and Spain. Arabic language was influenced by the dialects of these countries and has become richer and more expressive. According to Mustafa, “Arabic was made the official language of administration (700). It was employed throughout Muslim-controlled territory, achieving the status akin to that enjoyed by the Aramaic in the pre-Islamic periods (2008). By the middle of the X century, Arab medieval sources pointed out that the difference between the dialects of spoken language and literary language was very dramatic, and such a trend was observed in all the territories of the Arab Caliphate. However, eventually, Arab Caliphate lost control over numerous territories, which negatively contributed to the spread of the Arab language. For example, Arab Caliphate lost control over Spain after Reconquista. (Salloum, 2015).
The earliest examples of the written Arabic language are inscriptions found in the Syrian Desert, telling about the movements of nomadic tribes and epitaphs on the tombstones. Initially, inscriptions were created by using Nabataean letters, and after the adoption of Islam, the inscription was carried out exclusively in Arabic. After the advent of Islam, the Arabic language evolved into two types of scripts. The first type was developed in the Iraqi city of Kufah and is known as Kufic. The second type is called Naskhi and was created in Mecca and Medina. (Habeeb). According to Habeeb, “In the 7th century, Arabic, immortalized in the language of the Qur’an”. The use of language in the early 7th century as the language of the Qur’an led to the fact that the Arabic language became one of the most popular languages in the world. In the 8th-12th centuries, the Arabic language became unified, standardized, and became widespread in numerous literary genres, gradually turning into the most important language in the whole Middle East and, later, becoming an international medium of communication.
The next turning point in the Arabic language development and translation was between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century when the Arab world was in close contact with the West. Active development of literary genres, the emergence of the periodical press, mass printing, and the birth of drama have provided a powerful impetus for the modernization of the language, which was filled with new words, predominantly of Latin origin. In addition, in the early 20th century, numerous countries were influenced by missionaries who promoted Latin script and Christianity. Therefore, numerous African countries started to use Latin script instead of the Arabic alphabet. (Salloum).
One of the continuing trends of the modern Arabic language is the phenomenon of modernization. Modernization involves the creation of new terms of concepts that did not exist before. As well as speakers of other languages in the world, native Arabic language speakers are very wary of large-scale borrowing of new words. It is because the majority of Arabs believe that the Arabic language is the language of Allah. This view uncompromisingly rejects unjustified changes in the language.
Abu-Absi, Samir. “The Arabic Language.” History of Islam. 16 July 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Bishop, R. “A history of the Arabic language.” Linguistics 450 (1999).
Salloum, Habeeb. “The Odyssey Of The Arabic Language And Its Script” Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Shah, Mustafa. “The Arabic Language.” (2008): 261-277.