The 18th of December marks the United Nations Arabic Language Day. Did you know that there are over 300 million native Arabic speakers worldwide? This makes the Arabic language one of the most widely spoken languages in the word.
Arabic is spoken by a diverse range of people across the African continent and the Middle East, including Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, and many more. There are also people who live in New Zealand who come from these countries, or whose parents or grandparents come from these countries.
Arabic is written from right to left and the script is one of the oldest in the world, and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. Some of you may not know that this means when you read a book in Arabic you read it from the back to the front. With Arabic calligraphy, which is used in the picture above, you can see how beautiful the script is and that it is also viewed as art.
Here is a really cool video of this amazing calligraphy and graffiti mural artist, El Seed, talking about his work.
Arabic is also known as a very poetic language, because it has the oldest known example of poetry called Mu’allaqāt! There is a long oral tradition of speaking the poetry and stories aloud and sharing them for entertainment and fun!
In lots of Arabic speaking countries there is a special job as a storyteller called the Hakawati who recites famous poems and stories. Some families have their own Hakawati who recite family history at weddings and special occasions.
If you want to learn more about Arabic check out these cool databases on our website:
Language Nut: You can learn how to speak and read Arabic
Pressreader: Has lots of newspapers and magazines from all over the world – your parents might like know that we have some newspapers in Arabic.
At Wellington City Libraries we’re lucky enough to offer our community a wide selection of books in Arabic for everyone to enjoy! There is an adults’ collection in Kilbirnie Library, and the biggest childrens’ collection lives in Newtown. Remember you can request a book to be delivered to your local library for free, as long as you collect it within a week of it arriving for you!
Arabic books in the Newtown Library collection:
Lughz al-nufāyāt fī al-ḥadīqah / Shabbānī, Sanāʼ
There were many mysteries that “Sinan” was trying to solve after he decided to find out the source of the disgusting garbage that filled the backyard. Despite the fact that he was longing to discover the secret of his neighbour; “Wisam”, who used to finish his homework in a record time, many incidents happened obliged him to live an adventure along with “Wisam” so they discovered the secret that none of their neighbours knew; what an adventure!
This is a good book for older kids.
Tala’s Car سيارة تالا / Najjar, Taghreed
This is a great book for the holidays because its all about making your own fun!
Tala asks her friend Sarah to let her ride in her new red car, but Sarah refuses. Tala is sad and goes home crying. But Jad has a great idea that will soon bring the smile back to Tala’s face.
Taghreed Najjar (تغريد النجار)) is a Palestinian–Jordanian writer and publisher She is the writer of over 50 Arabic children and young adults’ books.
Karīm ʻAlá saṭḥ al-qamar / Karim on the moon / Ibrahim, Saleh
This instalment of the Karim series sees Karim travel to the moon to teach young readers scientific information about space in a fun and interesting way!
Mā arwaʻ al-ṭaʻām = Food, food, fabulous food / Clynes, Kate
A fun story about the diversity of food and all the ways it enriches our lives. Food brings people together from all walks of life and is a great way to connect with each other.