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Arabic Minor

The Arabic language is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, as it shares a place in the Semitic branch of languages, which is centered mostly in North Africa and the Middle East. Arabic has more than 280 million speakers today, and the language is widely studied in Islamic societies where it is not often used for everyday speech.

Arabic also shares status as one of the six official languages of the United Nations (the others being English, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish), reflecting the substantial political and cultural importance of the language. Almost twenty countries host sizable populations of Arabic speakers: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Due to the political and economic history of Arabic-speaking cultures, Arabic has provided loanwords to languages such as Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, and certainly English, by way of European civilization during the Middle Ages. “Everyday English” words such as “algebra,” “amber,” “cotton,” “lemon,” “serendipity,” “talisman,” and (indirectly) “zero” all stem from Arabic.

About the Curriculum

Arabic courses use a self-instructional language program format with enrollments limited to three to six students. Examinations in the language are half oral (administered by external examiners appointed by the University) and half written (administered by the course professor).


The following resources can be used to practice listening and reading comprehension skills and to gain a better understanding of the geography, history and popular culture relevant to Arabic language study.

Learn more about the minor in the Course Catalog