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If I learned MSA - would I be able to understand what people say in every Arabic country?

Non Arabs usually ask Arabs this question : If I learned MSA - would I be able to understand what people say in every Arabic country? - the answer to this question is : No, You wouldn't - because there are some differences between MSA and the dialects - but you will learn very quickly - because the differences are not big ones - And the dialects rules are very simple if you compare them with those of MSA

The problem is that Non Arabs usually ask the wrong people - and so - they got wrong answers - one of these wrong answers - the most famous - the one that people give without thinking - because they have only heard it from others - is : "You can understand Eastern dialects - but not Western ones" - Why? - "Because Western dialects are mixed with other languages -especially : French" - These answers are totally fals - all dialects differ from MSA - all contain lawn words - And if you understand MSA you can learn any of them very quickly

these are some examples to have an idea about the differences :

man rajol raagil raajel
woman imra2ah sitt mra
boy walad walad weld
girl bint bint bent
city madiinah madiina mdiina
hour sa3ah saa3a saa3a
face wajh wishsh wjeh
I ana ana ana
you 2anta 2inta nta
he howa howa howa
she hiya hiya hiya
we na7no 2i7na 7na
you 2antom 2intoo ntooma
they hom homma hooma
road Tarii9 Tarii2 Trii9
sky samaa2 sama sma
night layl liil liil
day nahaar nhaar nhaar
olive zaytoon zatoon zitoon
oil zayt ziit ziit
water maa2 mayya ma
sun shams shams shems
moon 9amar 2amar 9amaar
flowers ward ward ward
bull thawr toor tawr
eggs bayD biiD bayD
hand yad 2iid yedd
leg rijl rigl rjel
sahara Sa7raa2 Sa7ara Se7ra
money foloos filoos floos
on faw9a foo2 foo9
under ta7ta ta7t te7t
bread khobz khobz khobz
February 12, 2020



Thank you, this is very helpful information. I gave you some lingots for taking the time to explaing this.


I guess this is a question every beginner or so asks himself. Thanks for this nice and clear answer. One more lingot.


I was taught MSA at school, as a result, I'm able to understand Arabic texts on an intermediate level, but I can neither speak, nor understand spoken Arabic the same way I can read.


Same thing for people who have learned English at school - and after that watched a movie!


So I have a subsidiary question : If I learn MSA, most people in arabic countries should be able to understand me ? And if they take the care, they should be able to speak something close to MSA that I should understand ? As far as I have understood, MSA is taught in every arab schools.


Yes - if you learn MSA - and use it to communicate - most people will understand - and you can ask them to communicate with you in MSA - You will need dialects only if you want to watch movies - plays - to listen to music - and to understand people who are analphabet


I speak decent arabic from my parents and I can not understand any of what morrocans say, only like 5% random words. I think it is very different, it literally sounds like a different language to me. I think middle east, egypt/sudan dialects are much closer to MSA and easier to learn from MSA.


What do you mean by decent Arabic? - MSA or a certain Dialect? - if a dialect - which one? - If you have learned only MSA - you will not be able to understand any dialect - neither Moroccan nor Middle Eastern - and since you are not able to understand you cannot judge - you are only repeating what you have been told by middle eastern people - who are no specialist - and are not fair in their judgment!


As someone who learned MSA first and then the spoken I find all the dialects equally different and difficult tbh. I think the differences between Levant Arabic and Egyptian especially are often minimized by Arabic speakers, due to the fact that many Arabic speakers are already exposed to these dialects through pop culture and migration and take it for granted. Learning Lebanese Arabic when I had no experience other than Fusha and Iraqi Arabic was extremely difficult for me.

Unpopular opinion but my $0.02


Arabic is so complicated

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