Egyptian vs. Levantine: What’s the Difference Between These Dialects?
If you’ve decided to learn Arabic online or in a classroom, you may have noticed that there seems to be a lot of regional dialects within the language, and you would be correct to notice that. Many Arabic speaking countries, and especially those of the Middle East and North Africa, speak different variants of the Arabic language and this is especially true in both Egypt and Lebanon. As a result, if you’re planning on traveling to one of these two countries for business or pleasure, you may want learn the Arabic dialects of these countries, meaning you can learn Egyptian Arabic or Levantine Arabic, as learning these dialects can be very useful for you.
Before you decide which dialect to study, you may be wondering to yourself: “What’s the difference between the two?”
Well, you’re in luck because that’s the subject of today’s article – the Egyptian Arabic versus the Levantine Arabic.
Let’s start with Egyptian Arabic
Though it’s the national language of Egypt and spoken by 52 million people who call Egypt home, many other Arabic speaking countries have adopted Egyptian Arabic as their second language including Libya, Yemen, Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. This means that there could actually be a total of 54 million people who speak Egyptian Arabic around the world. This could be because Egyptian Arabic is found in the popular music of the region, but even more so because the Egyptian film industry, nicknamed “Hollywood on the Nile”, has produced over 3,000 films since the early 1920s, with many being nominated for Oscars in the last five years.
Levantine Arabic is the dialect spoken by over 20 million people in what is historically known as the Levant region of the Middle East and includes Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan as the countries where the dialect is spoken. It is not, however, an official language of any of these countries; rather it is the dialect spoken in casual conversations between friends and family, at the office, or around communities, especially those communities that have been heavy influenced by their Lebanese and Palestinian populations.
Differences Between the Two Dialects
Levantine Arabic has been influenced by several other languages including French, Hebrew, Greek and English. The most noticeable difference between the two dialects is that with Levantine Arabic the vowels and some affixes are commonly brought together. In other cases, the feminine and masculine gender is sometimes used in first, second and third person usage, but that not always the case.
Should You Learn Egyptian Arabic, Levantine Arabic or Both?
Certainly, if you’re sure of the area in which you’ll be visiting or living, you’ll need to learn the dialect that will be spoken in that area. After all, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you chose to learn to speak Arabic, but the people around you are speaking a different dialect. You’d be missing out on a great experience, to say the least! However, there’s no reason you can’t learn another dialect that might be handy as well.
For example, when I lived in Amman, Jordan, I learned the Levantine dialect; however, I met many Egyptians who worked in some of the local restaurants and mini-markets in my neighborhood. I got to know almost all of them and learned some of the Egyptian dialect; as a result, I added both another level to my Arabic language learning and gained some great friends in the process.
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