Arabic is the world’s fifth most widely-spoken language, with over two hundred million native speakers and is the sacred language of approximately one billion Muslims. The United Nations adopted Arabic as one of its six official languages in 1974. It is the national language of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Arabic is a Semitic language and therefore shares many grammatical forms, such as the triconsonantal root system, and much of its lexicon with Hebrew. Languages as diverse as English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Russian, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Chinese, and Latin have borrowed many words from Arabic. Words such as admiral, alcohol, algebra, average, checkmate, elixir, lute, magazine, saffron, tell, and as many as 1000 other words passed from Arabic to European languages alone.
The Arabic language has a rich literary tradition dating back to at least the 7th century. One of its most prominent features is diglossia, meaning that Modern Standard Arabic, the language learned at school, written and spoken by the media, and used by government and diplomats, differs substantially from colloquial versions of the language which differ widely across the Middle East and North Africa. Linguists have recently come to understand that most speakers of Arabic experience the language in multiple registers, so that diglossia is at best a blunt term for understanding how the language is spoken.
The Arab world has become the focus of international attention, because of the production of oil and large-scale economic investments and development. Arabic is the language of world-class modern literature, such as the works of the Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist; Gibran Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet and philosopher; and Mahmoud Darwish, a Palestinian poet.
If you are interested in taking Arabic at Rutgers, the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures currently offers Modern Standard Arabic through the advanced (300) level, as well as Classical and Qur'anic Arabic, and the option to Minor in Arabic.
Students with some knowledge of Arabic are encouraged to enroll in 01:013:145 "Accelerated Arabic" starting in the Spring semester of 2015.