Strange it seems? Not really. It’s truly one of the easiest and fastest growing languages in the world, though different surveys listed Arabic as the first or second most difficult language in the world to learn.
The fascinating and ever-growing Arabic language has been hugely misunderstood and neglected. However, it is already the most widely spoken language with about 300 million native speakers. It’s also been deemed the fastest growing language within the U.S. and even the fastest growing language on the internet.
On the occasion of the International Arabic Language Day which falls on 18th December every year, we have to ponder on a lot of oddities and well-planned intrigues against this language.
Firstly, how on earth is the most difficult language the second fastest growing language in the world?
Secondly, is it possible for one of the sweetest languages, admired by majority of language lovers at global level, to become the most difficult one at the same time?
Finally, Arabic is also one of the strongest and richest languages in terms of its vocabulary and adaptability with other languages; what makes it to list of toughest ones then?
Curiously, there are many widely circulated myths and misunderstandings about the language among the people across the world.
Let's debunk some of those misconceptions:
“The Arabic script is hopelessly difficult, like hieroglyphics.”
Wrong. Its alphabet has 28 letters. “Alif” is the easiest first letter comparing to any other language alphabets, which can be easily read and written even by a one-year old child.
There are actually only 5 basic shapes in Arabic alphabet. Writing goes clockwise, from right to left, which for many people is easier than writing left to right.
“Arabic has too many strange sounds, impossible to learn for foreigners.”
Untrue. There are only two or three sounds which are not found in English and these can be learned easily through imitation.
“Arabic has an enormous vocabulary: 700 words for a camel, 300 for a lion, etc.”
False. Ancient poetry has a very complex and diverse vocabulary which is the uniqueness of Arabic. But the vocabulary of Modern Standard Arabic is no more complex than the vocabulary of any other modern language.
“Arabic grammar is terribly complicated.”
Incorrect. Its verb system is pretty easy. For example, there are just two tenses – past and non-past.
The weirdest thing about the Arabic is the outlook of majority, whether they are Arab natives or foreigners that they believe in all this propagandas and oddities and set their minds accordingly.
However, the Arabic is scientifically proven to be one of the easiest and rich languages by leading linguists in the world.
Now, have a look at these examples
Easy Verb conjugation
The English and other common European languages teached (sorry, taught), are full of irregular verbs. We see young kids say things like “he hited me” – in English, we don’t always form the past participle using the –ed.
Arabic has nothing of the sort. The verb conjugation table is bigger than English but once you’ve learned the table for one verb, you’re done.
Learn one word, get dozens more free
Being a Semitic language, Arabic has a derivation system, whereby from a single root you can develop a whole array of related meanings. Likewise, the way each of these verbs is related to the basic root also helps with vocabulary acquisition.
Once learned the Arabic alphabet, you can realize the fact that (1) Arabic is written phonetically, so every word is spelled exactly as it sounds, and (2) there is no correct intonation to learn in Arabic unlike English as all syllables are equally stressed. Arabic certainly has its fair share of challenges but you might find that it’s easier to understand and get along with than you assumed.
Choose your own word order
Around 35% of languages have a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) word order, like English, 41% have an SOV order, and only 7% have a VSO order.
In fact, the word order in Arabic is very flexible. You can stick to VSO, or you can make it the same as English, SVO, though the standard Arabic sentence order in Classical Arabic is VSO, which has subtle rhetorical differences. However, in Modern Standard Arabic, the two word orders are equivalent.
Integrity in diversity
There are three types of Arabic as in any other language, namely: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and colloquial Arabic. Most Arabic students start their Arabic education by learning MSA, and then expand to the other forms if necessary.
Although the basic grammar of MSA is identical to Classical Arabic, it has been significantly influenced by translation works from European languages.
Thus, a number of phrases and connectors, not to mention vocabulary, have entered the language, making it significantly easier to communicate.
We can also see the words used in colloquial accents in different countries are strongly connected to its roots in classical Arabic, which makes Arabic learning more amusing and interesting.
Being the only language that can dominate the world after English if ever, Arabic has been exceptionally challenged for many cultural and colonial reasons. Meanwhile, Arabic language fans can be optimistic as long as it is proving its natural competency to supersede all hindrances and accusations.
Having over two decade’s extensive experience in dealing with Arabic language, I personally believe that if all its devotees, like me, take little bit of responsibility to support the noble initiatives to spread the Arabic language and its culture all over the world, H.H Sheikh Mohammed Arabic Language Initiative for instance, one day, Arabic would be the king of all languages.