Arabs have different dialects. Which one should you learn?

Arabs speak with different dialects based upon the region. When I started working as an interpreter, I used my regional dialect even though my clients were not coming from the same region. I felt that sometimes my clients seemed to have a hard time understanding me well. Therefore, I decided to start to interpret using the Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is the universal dialect in the Arab region. It is the standard used for textbooks in schools and therefore, most Arabs know and understand Modern Standard Arabic. Also, this the standard dialect used for formal or academic occasions.

When I switched to Modern Standard Arabic, it was awkward for my clients to hear me using it as Arabs do not use this dialect in their daily dialogues. It seemed to them too formal. However, in my case, using it helped alleviate any confusion or misunderstandings that can occur.

If you are not a native Arabic speaker and want to be understood by most Arabs, you should learn Modern Standard Arabic first. Keep in mind, you may face difficulties with some Arab clients who not use it even if you ask them to do so. Some Arabs do not feel comfortable using it or are not used to doing so. As a native speaker of Arabic, this has not been problematic for me because I can understand different dialects. When I hear something I do not get the exact meaning of I ask the client to rephrase it.


Mustafa H.

Native Arabic Speaker

if (isMyPost) { }