7 Interesting Facts about Arabic

As we’ve previously covered on this site, Arabic is a wildly useful world language. Spoken by more than 300 million people, it’s one of the top languages to learn to get hired internationally. But in addition to being practical, it’s also a fascinating language with a rich history. In this blog post, you can find some more interesting facts about Arabic.

1. Arabic is old and unchanged

Arabic has changed remarkably little for more than 10 centuries. You can find texts from 8th and 9th century still being widely read today. What is amazing is that people read them in the original Arabic with relative ease.

2. A religious language

One of the main reasons for the preservation of Arabic is that Muslims hold the Quran and other Islamic texts in high regard. Therefore there has always been a conscious effort to learn and teach the classical Arabic in which they are written.

3. Ancient literature within grasp

What this means is that is that if you learn Arabic, you get access to more than 1000 years of literature in their original language! Not to mention the deep insights you will gain both into history and Arab culture.

4. Synonyms abound

Arabic is exceptionally rich and intricate. Did you know that there are more than 300 synonyms for ‘lion’? And here is the crazy part – they are all slightly different in meaning.

al-‘Anbas is “The Lion from Whom Other Lions Flee”, al-Hirmās is “Aggressive Towards People”, and al-Asjar is “The Lion Whose Eyes Are Bloodshot”.

5. English words of Arabic origin

Some of the English words that came from Arabic include coffee from the Arabic ‘qahwa’, magazine for ‘makhzan’ and cotton from ‘quṭn’. Additionally, there is a whole slew of words beginning with ‘al-‘ that have their roots in Arabic. For example, ‘alcohol’ and ‘alchemy’.

6. Know your roots

Another fascinating aspect is the Arabic root system. Almost all Arabic words come from a 3 or 4 letter root word which carries a particular meaning or concept. All these words derived from it will have a connection to this meaning. So, by learning these root words, you can recognised possibly hundreds of other words.

7. Opposing views

Arabic words have a wide range of meanings. To the extent that sometimes the same words can carry opposite meanings.
For example:
Warā’ can mean both ‘behind’ or ‘in front’.
Ṣarīm can mean both ‘night’ and ‘morning’.
Jūn can mean both ‘black’ and ‘white’.
Ṭarb can mean both ‘happiness’ and ‘sadness’.

To find out more about this fascinating language, take a look at this infographic:

This post and infographic were authored by Abdul Aleem. Abdul is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) from Medina International Islamic University KL. He is fascinated by the Arabic language and would love to help out anyone who wants to learn it. He is the founder of the Fluent Arabic blog.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out other interesting facts about Norwegian, Albanian, or Danish. Alternatively, you can also sign up for an Arabic teacher below: