#4 Arabic

Arabic is spoken as a first language in 57 countries, by 295 million speakers. It’s primary country is Saudi Arabia

Arabic is a Macrolanguage – it has been classified as a language in it’s own right, but the category also comprises of “multiple, closely related individual languages” which are considered “distinct languages by the criterion of non-intellgibility” but collectively “are deemed in some usage contexts to be a single language.”.

Languages within the Macrolanguage of Arabic include ‘Arabic, Egyptian Spoken’  (64.5 million speakers) and ‘Arabic, Algerian Spoken’ (29.3 million speakers).

“The sociolinguistic situation of Arabic in modern times provides a prime example of the linguistic phenomenon of diglossia, which is the normal use of two separate varieties of the same language, usually in different social situations. In the case of Arabic, educated Arabs of any nationality can be assumed to speak both their school-taught Standard Arabic as well as their native, mutually unintelligible “dialects”; these dialects linguistically constitute separate languages which may have dialects of their own. When educated Arabs of different dialects engage in conversation (for example, a Moroccan speaking with a Lebanese), many speakers code-switch back and forth between the dialectal and standard varieties of the language, sometimes even within the same sentence. Arabic speakers often improve their familiarity with other dialects via music or film.”  

Audio Sources


  • Statistics – https://www.ethnologue.com
  • Janet C. E. Watson, The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, Introduction.
  • Walter J. Ong, Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture.

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