I would like to know, besides Modern Standard Arabic as spoken in Egypt, how many distinct Arabic alphabets (I assume each Arabic-speaking country will have its own Arabic alphabet, with a lot of overlap, and a few extra phonological symbols, such as, say, a thaa with four dots above instead of two, or a baa with three dots below to make a p sound) exist?

Can someone please provide me with a list of all such countries (I realize some countries will have a total overlap, whereas others, such as several close to India, perhaps, will have a partial overlap). I would like to have a list of all such countries with their extra symbols.

Furthermore, I would like to know how the Unicode standard accounts for these differences (as far as Arabic is concerned). A list of codes next to the symbols, listed by country though, would be nice.


  • You're asking for a lot of work on the answerer's part. You can probably do this research yourself on wikipedia. Start with Arabic Script (I think it answers most of your questions already) – Mitch Oct 13 '16 at 13:59

First of all, “Modern Standard Arabic” is not "spoken in Egypt", or indeed in any country. It is used only for writing and for reading aloud from a written text. The spoken language in every Arab country is the local dialects.

To your question: There is only one Arabic alphabet, but there are diacritics to indicate the non-Arabic sounds occurring in languages like Persian, Pashto, Urdu and other languages written with Arabic script. Occasionally these are also used to write Arabic dialects. But the basic battery of bare letters is the same in all Arabic-based writing systems.

  • How different ate the local dialects? You say, ' It is used only for writing and for reading aloud from a written text.' But if it is a written text in a dialect, obviously it will have the extra characters, which seems contradictory to your statement. I have also heard a user say that roman characters instead of Arabic are used to write dialects. Is this true our not? So, how many local dialects are there awnd where can I find a map of where these are spoken? Aren't there any written texts written :/ dialect around? – Jack Maddington Oct 5 '16 at 9:26
  • So, are you inputting every person I the Arabic works knows at least two languages: the one used for reading and writing, and their local dialect? That way all Arabic people can communicate in Arabic without ever any words being misunderstood or having a different meaning which varies from region to region? – Jack Maddington Oct 5 '16 at 9:28
  • On average, how much vocabulary will two people from two different regions have Ivan common? 80%? – Jack Maddington Oct 5 '16 at 9:29
  • Thank you for answering my questions, and sorry to bother you. – Jack Maddington Oct 5 '16 at 9:29
  • 1
    These are lots of questions. All Arabs speak a local dialect and also have a greater or lesser command of written (standard) Arabic, depending on their level of education. You can also write dialects with Arabic script, but the spelling of dialect words is not really standardised. Persian, Pashto, Urdu etc are not dialects of Arabic, but separate languages. The extra letters used for writing these languages have the same shape as the basic Arabic letters, but have added diacritics. I would not call them "extra characters", but this is question of definition. – fdb Oct 5 '16 at 9:46

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