16. Is Arabic the only language spoken within the Arab world?
No. For example, Assyrian and Chaldean services use a dialect of the original Aramaic. Berber and Kurdish are other non-Arabic languages of the Middle East.

17. So, do all Arab Americans speak one of these languages?
No. Remember that many Arab-American families have been in the United States for generations. Do not assume that an Arab American should know Arabic, any more than any other American should speak the language of his or her ethnic group.

18. Many recently immigrated Arab Americans also know French. Why is that?
Part of the recent history of Arab people is colonization by the French and British. In colonized countries, people in business and government had to know one or more European languages.

19. Do Arab schools teach other languages?
Definitely. It is much more common for Arab Americans to speak more than one language than it is for non-Arab Americans. Many countries place more emphasis on language than the United States does. Many immigrants come to the United States having learned two or three languages in their country of origin. Arab countries emphasize the importance of knowing a foreign language, and they are very familiar with Western media.

20. Is there any advice on pronouncing Arabic names?
Not really. It can be quite difficult to transliterate Arabic words into English, a language that uses different sounds and fewer letters. Unless you know the Arabic alphabet, it's hard to know how to pronounce words correctly. The "r" sound is rolled, and there are characters for three different pronunciations of the "th" sound. If you are unsure, respectfully ask a source to explain. Write down the pronunciation and the spelling, so you can give readers both. Be aware that, for these reasons, spellings vary.

21. Is there any trick to spelling Arabic words?
There are so many variations that it is crucial to ask, as you would with any word. Because Arabic and English characters and sounds are different, there is more than one way to transliterate the words. The Associated Press, for example, recently changed its style for the spelling of Mohammed to Muhammad, and it has changed its style for Koran to Quran.

22. How is Arabic written?
Arabic is one of several languages written from right to left. It would be narrow-minded to think of this as backwards writing. Think how you might feel if someone thought that you were reading this sentence backwards.

23. Are characters in Arabic different than those we use to write English?
Yes. English is written in Latin characters. Arabic is written in the 28-character Arabic alphabet. In Arabic, a character may change depending on its placement in the word or sentence. Arabic letters are connected like script. Fine writing is called calligraphy and is held in high regard and appreciated as an art form in the Arabic culture.


Contents :: Overview :: Origins :: Language :: Demographics :: Family :: Customs

Religion :: Politics :: Terminology :: Stereotypes :: Coverage :: Resources :: Credits


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