Arabic, Standard


A language of Saudi Arabia

Alternate Names
Al-’Arabiyya, Al-Fusha, Literary Arabic

206,000,000 L1 speakers of all Arabic varieties (Wiesenfeld 1999).



Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1992, Basic Law, Article 1).


Modern Standard Arabic (Modern Literary Arabic), Classical Arabic (Koranic Arabic, Quranic Arabic). Preserves the ancient grammar. A member of macrolanguage Arabic [ara].


VSO; prepositions; noun head initial; gender (masculine/feminine); dual number; definite and indefinite affixes; case-marking (3 cases); verb affixes mark number, gender of subject; aspect; 28 consonant and 6 vowel phonemes; non-tonal; stress on first syllable; triliteral roots, few affixes.

Language Use

Not an L1. In most Arab countries only the well-educated have adequate proficiency in modern Standard Arabic. Education, official purposes, written materials, and formal speeches. Classical Arabic, with archaic vocabulary, is used for religion and ceremonial purposes.

Language Development
Fully developed. Bible: 1865–2008.

Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab], primary usage. Braille script [Brai].

Other Comments

Modern Standard Arabic is modernized Classical Arabic.

Also spoken in:

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