This is part five in the series “Arabs Say…” featuring Arabic speakers from around the Arab world who gives their views on their language and how it is used today. Of course, we should keep in mind that these are personal views and do not represent the views of everyone in their countries. Still, we can learn a lot about the overall linguistic situation and some commonalities and regional differences.


  1. I really enjoy these “Arabs Say…” posts, not just for the insights that they offer to people like me who know (?) MSA and want to pick up a dialect or three, but because of the variety of nations/dialects covered (in addition to the wide array of opinions given) in each one of them.

    So many formal institutions, at least here in the West, only offer one or two dialects – Egyptian and Levantine. It’s good to see insight from someone who speaks Omani, or Gulf, or Maghrebi.

  2. The situation for native Arab speakers living in an Arabic country is fundamentally and totally different from a non-native speaker – living in America, Europe, or Japan – who is just interested in this fascinatingly elegant language and the culture. 99% of these people MSA is the first, and for 98% the only interaction with the Arabic language, and is for these people. My teachers used to tell me that “you shouldn’t waste time on learning a dialect in Budapest, you should focus on MSA and Classical, since a dialect is only usable when you visit a specific country, and anyway you would pick up the local dialect in a couple of weeks, if you have sound MSA”. Even 30 years ago, it was a big question why the hell to learn any variety of Arabic? For practical purposes it’s really a waste of effort, honestly, since all educated and even less educated Arabic people speak fluently English or French. So, it’s really interesting why to keep alive a kind of artificial language, MSA, since it is massively replaced by English. Dialects, on the other hand, are eternal.

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