Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)- how prevalent is it?
April 4, 2011 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)- how prevalent is it?

I know that MSA is the language of educated people in Middle East and North Africa. Most foreigners are encourage to learn MSA if they want to learn Arabic.

I am curious as to what percentage of the population in those countries could speak or understand MSA? I am especially interested in hearing first hand account of people who have traveled to Arabic speaking countries, do you have problem with people understanding MSA?

posted by Carius to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This previously has some relevant answers.
posted by SugarAndSass at 7:40 PM on April 4, 2011

Anyone who watches TV. Anyone who's gone to school. Nomadic tribesmen in the desert might not understand, but I think even they watch TV nowadays.
posted by Paquda at 7:45 AM on April 5, 2011

My impression is that the vast majority of Arabic speakers understand it but that it is not used for daily conversation, so while you will be understood if you speak it, you will not be able to participate in the kind of local cultural exchange that is part of most people's reason for taking the trouble to learn a foreign language before visiting a country. My advice to anyone planning to spend time in, say, Egypt would be to learn MSA (because that's what people will expect from you—the local languages, or "dialects," are considered low-class and not fit for foreigners) and then pick up as much spoken Egyptian as you can so you can chat with people rather than sounding like a newspaper editorial.
posted by languagehat at 7:54 AM on April 5, 2011

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