Arabic - Arabe - العربية

Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia.

1.  Classification / Classification

Arabic is a Semitic language within Afro-Asiatic... (Webbook)

Ethnologue lists the classification as: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic

2.  Where Spoken / Localisation géographique

It is found not only in the northern third of Africa, where it is generally the de jure national language, but also throughout the entire continent via its daily use in Islamic life as well as a medium of instruction in Islamic schools. (Webbook)

3.  Number of Speakers / Nombre de locuteurs

Ethnologue indicates there are 206 million first language speakers of all dialects, and 246 million second language speakers.

4.  Dialect Survey / Enquête de dialecte

There are many varieties of Arabic. Formal, literary (Egyptian) is often considered the standard; so is Modern Standard (based on Cairene Arabic). (Webbook)

According to UCLA-LMP:
"Arabic itself is commonly subclassified as Classical Arabic, Eastern Arabic, Western Arabic, and Maltese. ... Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is a modernized form of Classical Arabic.

"Western Arabic encompasses the Arabic spoken colloquially in the region of northern Africa—often referred to as the Maghrib—from Morocco to western Libya and in adjacent African countries to the immediate south. ...

"Eastern Arabic, sometimes referred to as Mesopotamian Arabic, includes the Arabic dialects spoken in a large region encompassing North Africa (Egypt and Sudan), the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula), and Arabic speaking communities in Asia (Bateson 1967). ..."

Dialects of Arabic in Africa as listed in Ethnologue (Mauritania is added):

  • Algeria / Algérie
    • Arabic, Algerian Saharan Spoken
    • Arabic, Algerian Spoken
  • Cameroon
    • (small number of Shuwa Arabic speakers)
  • Chad / Tchad
    • Arabic, Babalia Creole
    • Arabic, Chadian Spoken
  • Djibouti
    • Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni Spoken
  • Egypt
    • Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken
    • Arabic, Egyptian Spoken
    • Arabic, Sa
    • Arabic, Western Egyptian Bedawi Spoken
  • Libya
    • Arabic, Libyan
  • Mali
    • Hassaniyya
  • Mauritania / Mauritanie
    • Hassaniyya
  • Morocco / Maroc
    • Arabic, Hassaniyya
    • Arabic, Judeo-Moroccan
    • Arabic, Moroccan Spoken
  • Niger
    • (small numbers of Hassaniyya, Libyan Arabic, and Shuwa)
  • Nigeria
    • Arabic, Shuwa
  • Sudan
    • Arabic, Sudanese Creole
    • Arabic, Sudanese Spoken
  • Tanzania
    • Arabic, Omani Spoken
  • Tunisia
    • Arabic, Tunisian Spoken

5.  Usage / Utilisation

Arabic is a major world language with standard and classical forms, as well as vernacular forms spoken by majority or minority communities in many countries including over a dozen in Africa (especially the north). It is the language of scripture and religious learning for Muslims. In some places and circumstances it also serves as a lingua franca.

Arabic is the or an official language? in the following African countries: Algeria, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

6.  Orthography / Orthographe

6.1  Status / Statut

Arabic has a standard orthography and established alternate forms (at least in the Maghreb). See also Arabic Script.

6.2  Sample Alphabet / Alphabet exemple

See Arabic Script ("Standard Arabic alphabet").

See also:

7.  Use in ICT / Utilisation dans les TIC

7.1  Fonts / Polices

There are many fonts for the Arabic alphabet used in Arabic, some in Unicode, some in ISO-8859-6 or Windows 1256?.

7.2  Keyboard layouts / Dispositions de clavier

There exists at least one established computer keyboard arrangement for Arabic [verify if there are variants]

Lexilogos has an online keyboard/character picker for "arabe العربية" at

7.3  Content on computers & internet / Contenu en informatique et sur l'Internet

There is significant computer use and internet content in Standard Arabic.

There is a Wikipedia edition in Arabic at

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has an Arabic version: حاسوب محمول لكل طف

7.4  Localized software / Logiciels localisés

Major proprietary software is localized to Standard Arabic.

There is an OpenOffice project under the "Native Language Confederation" program:

There is a project to translate Debian (Linux) Installer in Arabic:

Need information on other software in Arabic (see also 8.3, below)

7.5  Language codes / Codes de langue


  • ISO 639-1: ar
  • ISO 639-2: ara
  • ISO 639-3: ara

Arabic, Standard

  • ISO 639-3: arb

Arabic, Algerian Saharan Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: aao

Arabic, Algerian Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: arq

Arabic, Babalia Creole

  • ISO 639-3: bbz

Arabic, Chadian Spoken / Shuwa

  • ISO 639-3: shu

Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: acq

Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: avl

Arabic, Egyptian Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: arz

Arabic, Sa

  • ISO 639-3: aec

Arabic, Libyan / Western Egyptian Bedawi Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: ayl

Arabic, Hassaniyya

  • ISO 639-3: mey

Arabic, Judeo-Moroccan

  • ISO 639-3: aju

Arabic, Moroccan Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: ary

Arabic, Sudanese Creole

  • ISO 639-3: pga

Arabic, Sudanese Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: apd

Arabic, Omani Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: acx

Arabic, Tunisian Spoken

  • ISO 639-3: aeb

7.6  Locales / Paramètres régionaux

7.7  Other / Autre

Cell phone commands are localized in Arabic.

Google has a version localized in Arabic:

8.  Localisation resources / Ressources pour localisation

8.1  Individuals (experts) / Individuelles (experts)

Manal Amin, CEO, Arabize

8.2  Institutions / Institutions

Arabize Computer Services, Ltd.

Arabeyes Project [FOSS]

8.3  On the internet / Sur la toile

The Arabeyes site has information and links to FOSS projects

Virtual keyboard/character pickers

"Arabic computing information" (TLT, Penn State Univ.) supports Arabic

9.  Comments / Remarques

What are the outstanding issues in terms of handling Arabic script that need to be addressed to facilitate FOSS localisation?

10.  References / Références

Dwyer, David (1997), Webbook of African Languages, (page on "Arabic," )

Omniglot, "Arabic script,"

SIL International, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, "Arabic, Standard,"

______, "Arabic, Algerian Saharan Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Algerian Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Babalia Creole,"

______, "Arabic, Chadian Spoken / Shuwa,"

______, "Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Egyptian Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Sa ,"

______, "Arabic, Libyan / Western Egyptian Bedawi Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Hassaniyya,"

______, "Arabic, Judeo-Moroccan,"

______, "Arabic, Moroccan Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Sudanese Creole,"

______, "Arabic, Sudanese Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Omani Spoken,"

______, "Arabic, Tunisian Spoken,"

SIL International, "ISO 639 Code Tables,"

______, "ISO 639-3 Macrolangauge Mappings,"

U.S. Library of Congress, "ISO 639.2: Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages: Alpha-3 codes arranged alphabetically by the English name of language,"

UCLA, Language Materials Project, "Arabic (profile),"

Wikipedia, "Alfabeto árabe,"

______, "Alphabet arabe,"

______, "Arabe,"

______, "Arabic alphabet,"

______, "Arabic language,"

______, "Língua árabe,"

______, "أبجدية عربي"أبجدية_عربية

______, "لغة عربية"لغة_عربية

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