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|Spoken in||Historically in the Middle East, now used as a liturgical language of Islam|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Classical Arabic (CA), also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times (7th to 9th centuries). It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the direct descendent used today throughout the Arab World in writing and in formal speaking, for example, prepared speeches, some radio broadcasts, and non-entertaining content. While the lexis and stylistics of Modern Standard Arabic are different from Classical Arabic, the morphology and syntax have remained basically unchanged (though MSA uses a subset of the syntactic structures available in CA). The vernacular dialects, however, have changed more dramatically. Both CA and MSA are normally called al-Fuṣ-ḥā (الفصحى) in Arabic, meaning 'the clearly spoken one' or the 'language of eloquence'.
Because the Qur'an is written in Classical Arabic, the language is considered by most Muslims to be sacred. It is the only language in which most Muslims recite their prayers, regardless of what language they use in everyday life.
Classical Arabic has its origins in the central and northern parts of the Arabian Peninsula, and is distinct from Old South Arabian languages that were spoken in the southern parts of the peninsula, modern day Yemen. Classical Arabic is the only surviving descendant of the Old North Arabian languages. The oldest inscription so far discovered in Classical Arabic goes back to 328 CE and is known as the Namārah inscription, written in the Nabataean alphabet and named after the place where it was found in southern Syria in April 1901.
With the spread of Islam, Classical Arabic became a prominent language of scholarship and religious devotion as the language of the Qur'an (at times even spreading faster than the religion). Its relation to modern dialects is somewhat analogous to the relationship of Latin and the Romance languages or Middle Chinese and the modern Chinese languages.
Classical Arabic is one of the Semitic languages, and therefore has many similarities in conjugation and pronunciation to Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Amharic. Its use of vowels to modify a base group of consonants resembles similar constructions in Biblical Hebrew.
These words all have some relationship with writing, and all of them contain the three consonants KTB. This group of consonants k-t-b is called a "root." Grammarians assume that this root carries a basic meaning of writing, which encompasses all objects or actions involving writing, and so, therefore, all the above words are regarded as modified forms of this root, and are "obtained" or "derived" in some way from it.
Grammar in Arabic (قواعد, meaning "rules"), underwent development in the late 700s. The earliest known Arabic grammarian is ʻAbd Allāh ibn Abī Isḥāq. The efforts of three proceeding generations of grammarians culminated in the book of the Persian scholar Sibāwayhi. Recent efforts aim to annotate the entire Arabic Grammar of the Quran, using traditional syntax:
Classical Arabic had three pairs of long and short vowels: /a/, /i/, and /u/. The following table illustrates this:
Like Modern Standard Arabic, Classical Arabic had 28 consonant phonemes:
The consonants traditionally termed "emphatic" /tˤ, ɬˤ, sˤ, ðˤ/ were either velarised [tˠ, ɬˠ, sˠ, ðˠ] or pharyngealised [tˤ, ɬˤ, sˤ, ðˤ]. In some transcription systems, emphasis is shown by capitalizing the letter, for example, /sˁ/ is written ‹S›; in others the letter is underlined or has a dot below it, for example, ‹ṣ›.
There are a number of phonetic changes between Classical Arabic and modern Arabic dialects. These include:
A variety of special symbols exist in the Classical Arabic of the Qur'an that are usually absent in most written forms of Arabic. Many of these serve as aids for readers attempting to accurately pronounce the Classical Arabic found in the Qur'an. They may also indicate prostrations (Sujud), surahs (Ayah), or the ends of chapters (Rub al Hizb).
|06D6||ۖ||SMALL HIGH LIGATURE SAD WITH LAM WITH ALIF MAKSURA|
|06D7||ۗ||SMALL HIGH LIGATURE QAF WITH LAM WITH ALIF MAKSURA|
|06D8||ۘ||SMALL HIGH MEEM INITIAL FORM|
|06D9||ۙ||SMALL HIGH LAM ALIF|
|06DA||ۚ||SMALL HIGH JEEM|
|06DB||ۛ||SMALL HIGH THREE DOTS|
|06DC||ۜ||SMALL HIGH SEEN|
|06DD||||END OF AYAH|
|06DE||۞||START OF RUB AL HIZB|
|06DF||۟||SMALL HIGH ROUNDED ZERO|
|06E0||۠||SMALL HIGH UPRIGHT RECTANGULAR ZERO|
|06E1||ۡ||SMALL HIGH DOTLESS HEAD OF KHAH = Arabic jazm • used in some Qur'ans to mark absence of a vowel|
|06E2||ۢ||SMALL HIGH MEEM ISOLATED FORM|
|06E3||ۣ||SMALL LOW SEEN|
|06E4||ۤ||SMALL HIGH MADDA|
|06E7||ۧ||ARABIC SMALL HIGH YAA|
|06E8||ۨ||SMALL HIGH NOON|
|06E9||۩||PLACE OF SAJDAH|
|06EA||۪||EMPTY CENTRE LOW STOP|
|06EB||۫||EMPTY CENTRE HIGH STOP|
|06EC||۬||ROUNDED HIGH STOP WITH FILLED CENTRE|
|06ED||ۭ||SMALL LOW MEEM|
|From: Unicode Standard - Arabic|