Q & A

How was the Lebanese Language developed?

The currently spoken Lebanese was developed from its parent Semitic language Aramaic. Aramaic was spoken in the whole region until about 900 AD. Later, Arabic was introduced and the people in Lebanon were speaking several dialects of Aramaic especially in the mountains and North Lebanon, while some Arabic dialects were introduced in some coastal cities.

Eventually, the people of Lebanon blended their Aramaic with Arabic. From the 17th to 20th centuries, some of the Turkish language was incorporated in the Arabo-Aramaic mix. The Lebanese language kept developing until these days where some French and English were introduced in the past century.

Some scholars go further back to the Canaanite (Phoenician) language that the inhabitants of the region spoke before Aramaic, which has common words with Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew.

How does Lebanese language differ from Arabic language?

Arabic and Lebanese are both of Semitic roots. They have many common words and grammar, just like Spanish and Italian have in common. However, if people learn Arabic they will not be able to speak Lebanese and visa versa. Although some people refer to Lebanese as Lebanese-Arabic due to the Arabic mix in it, Lebanese and Arabic are two different languages. Despite the fact that almost half of the words used in Lebanese are from Arabic origin, they were reshaped and developed through several centuries.

How does Lebanese language differ from Aramaic language?

The Aramaic language gave words and structure to Lebanese, as will as it gave to other Semitic languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew. Many Lebanese words and grammar trace their roots  back to Aramaic. Although some people refer to Lebanese as Neo-Aramaic referring to its roots, they are two different languages now. Except for some Aramaic words that are used in Lebanese language as-is, many Aramaic words were reshaped and developed through time.

Who speaks Lebanese?

Lebanese is spoken by about 3 million in Lebanon and almost double the number around the world.

Who understands Lebanese?

Due to being one of the most popular languages of television and entertainment production, most of the people in the Arabic countries understand Lebanese. The Lebanese songs and television production attract over 200 million from the region between the Arabic/Persian Gulf and Morocco. This applies to the many immigrants from that region to the Americas attracting several millions there.

If I speak Lebanese, what languages can I understand?

Lebanese is very close to the languages that were derived from the same Aramaic roots and got the Arabic and Turkish mix. So people who speak Lebanese can easily communicate with those who speak Syrian, Jordanian, and Palestinian (except for those who speak Badawin).

Languages that have Arabic and Arabic Roots

Which Lebanese are we teaching on this website?

We are teaching the modern Lebanese that is spoken by most of the Lebanese today; the one used mainly in conversation and on televisions. If you speak the Lebanese as tutored in this website, you will speak like most of the Lebanese do nowadays. Since the Lebanese language has dialects rather than accents, every single Lebanese speaker has his/her own accent; so learning modern Lebanese will allow you to speak it like any Lebanese does – reducing the accent factor.

How many Dialects does the Lebanese language have?

Seven main dialects are commonly recognized: Northern Lebanese, Central-Mountain Lebanese, Southern-Lebanese, Traditional-Beiruti-Lebanese, Biqaxii-Lebanese, the Durzi-Mountain Lebanese, and Modern Lebanese that evolved in the recent few decades.

The modern Lebanese simply developed toward dropping the regional dialects. So, most of the Lebanese now speak Modern Lebanese with slight regional accents.

If I learn Arabic, would I be able to speak Lebanese?

No. This is like asking “if I learn Latin can I speak Italian?”. Despite the similarities in structure and words between the two languages, they are still two different languages. People in Lebanon learn Lebanese form their daily life conversation and television programs. They are introduced to Arabic when they go to school and study Arabic language and literature, and they practice Arabic by reading books and newspapers.

It is not advised for the people outside Lebanon to try to study Arabic if they do not speak their native language – Lebanese, Egyptian etc.. If someone wants to learn both Lebanese and Arabic, they need to start with Lebanese and learn Arabic after they are fluent in Lebanese.

Is it true that the Lebanese people speak Lebanese but write Arabic?

This is a false statement often used by people who confuse the use of Arabic script for writing with the language itself. The Lebanese use Arabic script (letters) to write both Lebanese and Arabic; They write, read and speak Lebanese in their songs, poems, television production and letters, while they write, read, and speak Arabic in Arabic Literature, courts, and some religious rituals. This is not different from the people utilizing Latin letters to write both English and Spanish languages.

How many people in the world now have Arabic as their native language?

None. Currently, Arabic is not the first language for any person around the world. The only way to learn Arabic is to study it. Which means that you cannot learn Arabic if you live among Lebanese, Egyptians, Kuwaitis or any nation today -You will learn the language they speak instead.

Why designing a specific program to teach Lebanese?

Many Lebanese around the world want to learn the native language of their parents or fore-parents.  Because of the way the Lebanese language developed recently, few resources and means are available for people whose native language is English.

Furthermore, many people fell into the dilemma of learning Lebanese through Arabic teaching books. This made it absolutely difficult for the learners who hassled with learning two Semitic languages at the same time – a method that dose not work even in Lebanon where people learn their mother tongue Lebanese, and later study Arabic at schools.

Why is using Latin letters easier to teach Lebanese to people in Diaspora?

Nowadays, the Lebanese are already using the Latin (Roman) letters to communicate especially through with the evolution of the Internet; they try to substitute the Arabic letters with the modern Latin letters.

Finding that people can learn the Lebanese language using simple letters and without the need to go through the hassle of learning the Arabic script, this program is designed for people whose native language is English.

After all, Lebanese is a simple language with a “relatively” easy grammar.