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Old 02-21-2014, 08:26 PM
 
Location: East coast
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I asked a similar question in the Asia forum about Chinese dialects, but since Arabic is both in North Africa and West Asia (the Middle East), I didn't know whether to ask this in the Africa or Asia forum so here it goes.

It is not as commonly talked about as Chinese dialects, at least it seems from what I hear, but I have heard Arabic dialects are also pretty distinctive and some are even mutually unintelligible.

I hear that there is one standard Classical Arabic used for literary purposes, plus many colloquial dialects, such as Moroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Syrian Arabic, Kuwaiti Arabic etc.

Are these dialects mostly mutually intelligible, somewhat mutually intelligible or not at all?
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Can't answer the question entirely but I do know that the ''standard Arabic'' that is the default variant is that of Egypt, owing to its big role in Arabic-language popular culture (movies, TV, music, etc.)
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:00 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Oh yeah, my kids' friends who speak Arabic (and there are quite a few) will sometimes say that they can't fully understand each other, for example Lebanese vs. Moroccan, or Algerian vs. Lebanese. Of course, these are kids who grew up here, go to school in French and even mix Arabic and French at home. I wonder if kids living overseas who grow up in a more Arabic environment for everything might lead to people there having less difficulty understanding each other due to more exposure and a richer vocabulary.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
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They are very different, especially when you get into some of the French influenced countries.

My friends tell me it would be more like the difference between Spanish and Portuguese than Spanish from Spain vs Latin American Spanish.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:55 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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I somehow ended up with a good number of Lebanese and Egyptian friends--according to them, Moroccan Arabic is pretty hard to understand. It's not to the point where it's just completely unintelligible, but they do need people to slow down a bit when talking and they do find its accent funny. I'm guessing there's some degree of variability, but I'm guessing northern African dialects of Arabic (outside of Egypt) are particularly difficult because of the huge Berber/Berber-descended population of that part of the world.
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:07 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Jordanian Arabic is a fusion of several regional dialects that, a century ago, were almost mutually unintelligible. Amman, the present day capital of nearly 3-million, was a few uninhabited ruins a century ago, and the Arabic now spoken in Amman is a sort of a patois constructed from the regional dialects.

There is an excellent brief outline of Jordanian Arabic at the top of this site:

Jordanian Arabic phrasebook - Wikitravel
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