8.5 Culture: Arab countries and flags

In this section

  • You will learn more about the Arab World and countries in Asia and Africa.

The Arab World

Map of Arab world with flags

Watch this video about the Arab countries, capital cities, population and flags

Activity (9): Do more research and find updated information about the Arab World العالم العربي and discuss the following with your classmates.

1. كم دولة عربية في آسيا؟

2. كم دولة عربية في إفريقيا؟

3. ما هي أكبر دولة عربية من حيث المساحة؟

4. ما هي أكبر دولة عربية من حيث عدد السكان؟

Culture Notes

  • The largest differences between the standard and the colloquial Arabic are the loss of grammatical case; a different and strict word order; the loss of the previous system of grammatical mood, along with the evolution of a new system; the loss of the inflected passive voice, except in a few relic varieties; restriction in the use of the dual number; and (for most varieties) the loss of the feminine plural.
  • Further substantial differences exist between Bedouin and sedentary speech, the countryside and major cities, ethnic groups, religious groups, social classes, men and women, and the young and the old. These differences are to some degree bridgeable.
  • Arabic speakers can adjust their speech in a variety of ways according to the context and to their intentions—for example, to speak with people from different regions, to demonstrate their level of education or to draw on the authority of the spoken language.
  • The greatest variations between kinds of Arabic are those between regional language groups.
  • Arab dialectologists have adopted a more accurate classification for modern variants of the language, which is divided into five major groups: Peninsular; Mesopotamian; Levantine; Egypto-Sudanic; and Maghrebi.
  • These large regional groups do not correspond to borders of modern states. In the western parts of the Arab world, varieties are referred to as الدارجة ad-dārija, and in the eastern parts, as العامية al-ʿāmmiyya. Nearby varieties of Arabic are mostly mutually intelligible, but faraway varieties tend not to be.
  • Varieties west of Egypt are particularly disparate, with Egyptian Arabic speakers claiming difficulty in understanding North African Arabic speakers, while North African Arabic speakers’ ability to understand other Arabic speakers is mostly due to the widespread popularity of Egyptian Standard and to a lesser extent, the Levantine popular media, for example Syrian or Lebanese TV shows (this phenomenon is called asymmetric intelligibility).
  • One factor in the differentiation of the varieties is the influence from other languages previously spoken or still presently spoken in the regions such as Coptic in Egypt; French, Ottoman Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Berber, Punic or Phoenician in North Africa and the Levant; Himyaritic, Modern South Arabian, and Old South Arabian in Yemen; and Syriac Aramaic, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Sumerian in Mesopotamia (Iraq). Speakers of mutually unintelligible varieties are often able to communicate by switching to Modern Standard Arabic.

Key Takeaways

  • Dialect variations in Arabic has some geographical nature in that countries close to each other has similar dialects.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Elementary Arabic II Copyright © 2021 by Ayman Mohamed and Sadam Issa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book