The Arabic Language is spoken in the Middle East and in North Africa. Almost all Lebanese speak Arabic, which is the official language of the country. Arabic is one of the defining traits of the people we call Arabs. However, just as in the English speaking countries of the world where there are different idioms used from country to country, the Arabic spoken language varies from region to region. The Arabic spoken in North Africa, for example, has more French and Berber words, and may be almost unrecognizable to an Arabic speaking person from Lebanon who speaks a dialect that is closer to Formal Standard Arabic.32 The Lebanese dialect is similar to that of Jordan and Syria. While spoken Arabic varies from region to region the Arabic written language, on the other hand, which is known as Modern Standard Arabic, is uniform across the region. Classical Arabic is the language of the Quran and is uniform as well.
Arabic has twenty-eight letters and is always written in Arabic script. Arabic is written and read from right to left. As in Spanish or Italian, different forms are used when addressing men and women. In Arabic, adjectives follow nouns so you would say “cow brown” instead of “brown cow.” One odd fact is that in the Western World we use Arabic numerals but Arabs use ancient Indian numbers instead.
In addition to Arabic, other languages may be used in Lebanon. The Armenian people speak Armenian. English is often used in business. Arabic, French and English are taught in school.
Some of the following Arabic words and phrases were found in the Muttaqun Online English to Arabic Dictionary at: http://muttaqun.com/arabic/english2arabic.html on the web. The purpose of this list is to get you started. The students can be challenged to find additional words on the web, in the library, or from friends who speak Arabic.
Father = Ab
Mother = Um
Husband = Zawj
Wife = Zawja
Son = Ibn
Daughter = Ibna or Bint
Friend = Sadik if a male, sadikka if a female
I = Ana
No = laa
Yes = na’am
What is your name? = Ma Ismok?
Good morning = Sabah AlKair
Good evening = Masa’ AlKair
Good night = Laila Tiaba (or Tisbah alKair)
Excuse me, I’m sorry, you’re welcome = ‘afwan
How are you? = Kaifa Halok?
Please = Min Fadilak
Thank you = shukran
You (singular) -- Anta (m), Anti (f)You (plural) = Antom (m), Antona (f)
School = Madrassa
I do not understand = Ana laa Afham