The Arabic script evolved from the Nabataean Aramaic script. It has been used since the 4th century AD, but the earliest document, an inscription in Arabic, Syriac and Greek, dates from 512 AD. The Aramaic language has fewer consonants than Arabic, so during the 7th century new Arabic letters were created by adding dots to existing letters in order to avoid ambiguities. Further diacritics indicating short vowels were introduced, but are only generally used to ensure the Qur’an was read aloud without mistakes.
There are two main types of written Arabic:
- Classical Arabic – the language of the Qur’an and classical literature. It differs from Modern Standard Arabic mainly in style and vocabulary, some of which is archaic. All Muslims are expected to recite the Qur’an in the original language, however many rely on translations in order to understand the text.
- Modern Standard Arabic (اللغة العربية الفصحى / al-luġatu…
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