Today we are talking a walk around the world. Of course, we don’t really mean a literal walk. More like an Arabic dialects kind-of-walk. We will be exploring the main Arabic dialects and how they differ. Not to mention, we will be answering some of the most important questions out there on Arabic speakers: Can different Arabic dialect speakers understand each other? What is the hardest Arabic dialect? And what is the best Arabic dialect to learn?
The simple answer to all of these questions is: it depends. The longer answer goes according to the spoken dialect and to whom that person is speaking to. It differs from one person to the next.
In fact, around the Arab world the Arabic dialects are so various and diverse, it is hard to keep up. After all, there are over 420 million Arabic speakers so far.
But the bottom line with these questions is that it depends on the person, how fast he/she learns, and why you are studying Arabic in the first place.
Let’s have a look at the different Arabic dialects.
Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon speak Levantine Arabic. Among these countries, there are minor differences, but they have very similar vocabulary and syntax structures. Many Arabic learners tend to go for Levantine as it is the softest of all Arabic dialects.
Not to mention, because there are four countries that speak this language, it is likely that many learners who originally come from these countries would want to know their own dialects.
One of the perks of Levantine Arabic: Every Arabic speaker can understand it for sure!
So logically speaking, Gulf Arabic covers all countries in the Gulf region. This includes: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. This dialect is a bit more challenging as it is heavy on the tongue. New learners do not prefer it unless the learner wants to live and/or work in a Gulf country.
Levantine speakers will understand most of Gulf Arabic, and the same applies vice versa.
From one desert to the next, Egyptians are not only special with their pyramids and Pharaoh’s, but with their dialect too. They speak Egyptian Arabic which is can be immediately noticed. Seeming that they make up most of the Arabic speakers, this is the most common dialect.
Although there is only one country that speaks Egyptian, but there numbers exceed all other countries. There are a lot of Egyptians in the world.
Their language is fast and it would be difficult to catch up. For this reason, many people opt out of Egyptian. Speed is just part of their culture.
The Difficult Ones
North African Maghrebi and Sudanese are noticeably different. Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia speak Maghrebi. Obviously, Sudan speaks Sudanese.
They may understand half of Levantine, Egyptian, and Gulf Arabic. However, we can’t say the same about them. Their dialect deviates too much from Modern Standard Arabic MSA and it is too fast.
For that reason, it is not common to find Arabic learners that go for these dialects.
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