Arabic (Arabic: العَرَبِيَّة, al-ʻarabiyyah [ʔalʕaraˈbij.ja] or Arabic: عَرَبِيّ ʻarabī [ˈʕarabiː, ʕaraˈbij] is a Central Semitic language complex that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living from Mesopotamia in the east to the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai peninsula.
Classical Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.7 billion Muslims and Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations. It is spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world.
The modern written language (Modern Standard Arabic) is derived from Classical Arabic. It is widely taught in schools and universities, and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government, and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic (fuṣḥā), which is the official language of 26 states and the liturgical language of Islam. Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic and uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties, and has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties. Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-Classical era, especially in modern times.
Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right-to-left although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left-to-right with no standardized orthography.
Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Maltese, Urdu, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Maldivian, Indonesian, Pashto, Punjabi, Tagalog, Sindhi and Hausa and some languages in parts of Africa. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages, mainly Portuguese and Spanish owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. Balkan languages, including Greek, have also acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish.
Arabic has also borrowed words from other languages including Greek and Persian in medieval times, and contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.