What Language is Spoken in Egypt?

The official name of Egypt is the Arab Republic of Egypt. It joins the northeast region of Africa with the Middle East. Egypt is the only Eurafrican country in the world. Most of its geographical region lies within the Nile Valley. Moreover, Egypt is a Mediterranean nation and its borders lie with Israel and the Northeast Gaza Strip. Furthermore, on the south and east side, it has Red Sea borders.

Libya lies on its west side; Sudan lies on the South and on the east lies the Gulf of Aqaba. Egypt is native to 90 million people. Therefore, it is the most populated nation in the Arab world and north of Africa. Moreover, it is the fifteenth most populated city in the world. Furthermore, Egypt is the third most populated country in Africa after Ethiopia and Nigeria.

The people reside on the banks of the river Nile because it is the fertile land of the country. A large part of Egypt consists of the Sahara Desert. It is not populated. Therefore, half of the population lives in the Urban area. It includes Cairo which is the capital of Egypt. Furthermore, it includes Alexandria and other big cities in the Nile Delta.

For centuries, Egypt has been influenced by many different communities. The interaction between various communities resulted in the emergence of languages spoken in Egypt. People of Egypt speak several languages but its official language is Arabic.

The other languages that people speak are Domari, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic, Nobiin, Siwi, and many more. The immigrant community speaks languages like Armenian, Greek, and Italian. Furthermore, children at school are taught different languages like Italian, German, French, and English.

Table of Content

  1. History of Egyptian Civilization
  2. Use of Egyptian Language Today
    1. Egyptian Arabic
    2. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in Egypt
    3. Sa’idi Arabic in Egypt
    4. Bedawi Arabic in Egypt
    5. Domari Language in Egypt
    6. Beja Language in Egypt
    7. Nobiin Language in Egypt
    8. Siwi Language in Egypt
    9. French and German Language in Egypt
    10. Italian Language in Egypt
    11. English Language in Egypt
  3. Wrapping Up

History of Egyptian Civilization

Egyptian civilization is one of the oldest and most symbolic civilizations in the world. It impacted the world for 3000 years. It is very important to understand the history of Egyptian civilization because civilization gives birth to languages. Before the independence of ancient Egypt, there were independent states that were located beside the river Nile.

People used to do trade and commerce business through these states. These people are famous for their cultural values and innovations. The Pyramids are one of the examples. Furthermore, they bring innovations in writing. It made them successful from 2500 b.c. to 1075 b.c.

One of the best writing formats was Hieroglyphs. It uses Ancient Greek and Egyptian Demotic. It was innovated during the old reign. Moreover, it is the most decorative part of writing with 700 pictorial characters. After that, another form of writing was developed from the hieroglyphic system.

This writing system was written with ink and it was used for different purposes. Another writing system called papyrus was invented. It helped the Egyptians in record keeping and communication. Furthermore, it helped Egyptian culture to flourish for many years.

The history of people speaking different languages in Egypt is very captivating. The Egyptian languages are a group of Afro-Asiatic languages. These languages in their classical form are known as Middle Egyptian.  People used this dialect till the time when the Roman Empire invaded.

Use of Egyptian Language Today

At present, some communities still speak a language that is similar to the Ancient language. This is the reason that people manage to retain this dialect due to the isolated groups that are related to Christianity. Egypt is a Muslim country. In this Muslim country, people speak varieties of Arab dialects.

Moreover, the Christian community speaks the ancient Egyptian dialect. In 42 AD, the Christians entered Egypt through Saint Mark. Therefore, it resulted in the formation of the Coptic dialect. It is an ancient dialect. People use the Greek alphabet to write late ancient dialects.

When Christians moved to Greece, they borrowed many symbols. It also gave birth to the Coptic dialect. The Catholic masses and orthodox living in the countryside speak this dialect. Furthermore, besides a Coptic dialect, a Copts religious group came into existence.

This group speaks Egyptian whereas Copts speak a language that is different from the official. The official and unofficial languages are Arabic. Therefore, Copts require professional translation services to do business and to travel around. Ancient Egyptians considered it a cultural and historical heritage.

1. Egyptian Arabic

No doubt, modern standard Arabic is the official language. But on the other hand, people also speak Egyptian Arabic widely. It is the national language of the country. Egyptian Arabic is native to 68% of speakers. Moreover, people use it widely in literature, plays, and novels. Furthermore, they use it in film, advertising, and newspapers. Egyptian Arabic came into existence in the Nile Delta near Cairo. People started speaking Arabic dialects when the Arab invaders conquered Egypt in the 7th century.

It is also influenced by the Coptic language and other languages like Italian, French, Ottoman, and Turkish. Egyptian Arabic holds the position of the second most spoken language in Arabic countries such as Israel, Kuwait, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Other countries leverage the frequency of this language through their film and media industries.

2. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) in Egypt   

Modern Standard Arabic is also a modern and literary Arabic. In official speech and writing, MSA is used for literary and standardized purposes. Moreover, mainly in North Africa, and the Middle East, it is used for literary purposes. The United Nations also uses this dialect for formal conversation. The print materials like books, magazines, newspapers, and formal documents are written in this dialect.  People are keen to learn MSA in Egypt and all around the world.

3. Sa’idi Arabic in Egypt

The other name of Saidi Arabic is Upper Egypt Arabic. People that are residing in the South of Cairo and on both sides of the Sudan Border speak this language. This language possesses both the qualities of Egyptian Arabic and Sundanese Arabic. Moreover, it has borrowed some parts of dialects from Upper and Middle Egyptian Arabic.

Egyptian Arabic speakers sometimes are unable to comprehend the conventional forms of Sa’idi Arabic. This language is not so outstanding in the country. However, people of the northern region speak this language widely. This region is inhabited by rural immigrants that partially speak Egyptian Arabic.

4. Bedawi Arabic in Egypt

The other name of the Arab dialect is Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic or Levantine Bedawi Arabic. Bedouin people speak this dialect. The Bedouins are Arab semi-nomadic people. They travel from place to place and historically live in the deserts of the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Bedouins that are residing in Cairo’s suburbs, the Sinai peninsula, and the Eastern region of Egypt speak Bedawi Arabic.

Moreover, people of other neighbours like Israel, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and the Gaza Strip speak this language. Bedawi Arabic is composed of many dialects/ These include South Levantine Bedawi Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Arabic, and North Levantine Bedawi Arabic.

5. Domari Language in Egypt

Domari language is an Indo-Aryan dialect. Old Dom people speak this language. Moreover, you will find these people in the Middle East and North Africa. Some other names of Domari are  Luti, Tsigene, Middle East Romani, and Mehtar. People living in the south of Egypt, north of Azerbaijan, central Sudan, and Libya speak the Domari dialect.

Moreover, people from Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Jordan, and Tunisia speak this dialect. A variety of styles are followed in the Domari language.  In the Arab world, people use Arabic scripts.  Furthermore, this dialect has taken many loanwords from Arabic and Persian.

6. Beja Language in Egypt

The other names of the Beja language are Tun-Bdhaawi, Bedawi, Ta Bedawi, Hadareb, or Bidhaaawyeet. It is an Afroasiatic dialect. Beja people and the Western region of the red sea speak this language. Moreover, people that are residing in Sudan, the Eastern Desert, and Eritrea speak the Beja dialect. Beja dialect is native to 2 million people.

Historically, the language has been an oral language and various generations passed it down. But experts have been making serious efforts in recent years to create a writing system for it. People can characterize the language by its unique grammar, vocabulary, and phonology. All such things reflect the distinct roots of the Beja language within the Afro-Asiatic family.

Moreover, various ongoing initiatives are in progress to encourage and preserve the Beja language in the region. These include but are not limited to educational programs, research & development, and cultural events. The result of such efforts will help foster cultural diversity as well as promote the linguistic rights of the community of Beja in Egypt. 

7. Nobiin Language in Egypt

Nobiin, also called Mahas, is a Northern Nubian dialect. It is the dialect of the Nilo-Saharan group. The first person that spoke the Nubian language was an emigrant from the Nile Valley. It is native to 495,000 Nubians. These people live around the banks of the River Nile, the northern region of Sudan, and the southern region of Egypt. Moreover, the Nobiin speaker is bilingual. They can speak Standard Arabic, Sundanese Arabic, and Saidi Egyptian Arabic.

The Nobiin language has a consonant length with an incompatible vowel. It also has a tonal dialect.  The sentence formation contains subject-object-verb order. This language does not contain standardized orthography. Therefore, Latin and Arabic scripts are used for writing. The government has taken certain actions to save the old Nobiin alphabet.

8. Siwi Language in Egypt

Some other names of the Siwi language are Oasis Berber, Zenati, or Siwa. It is a Berber dialect of Egypt. Therefore, It is native to 15,000 to 20,000 people. These people live in the Oases of Siwa and Gara which are located at the border of Libya. 

Being part of the Afro-Asiatic family, Siwi exhibits unique grammatical and phonological features. The cultural and historic context of Siwa Oasis had a great influence on the distinct vocabulary of this language. Moreover, Egyptian Arabic also has a great impact on this dialect.  At present, the use of the Siwi dialect is declining. It is due to various factors such as migration, globalization, and the dominance of Arabic in Egypt. This is the reason that Egyptians are shifting to Arabic dialects.

9. French and German Language in Egypt

In Egypt, old people who are from an educated class and who are above 40 years of age speak the French language. These people are very proficient in the French language because French was a preferred language of education before English prevailed in Egypt. However, the French language regained its popularity as the young generation is opting for French language classes.

Apart from the French language, people are also opting for German language classes. There are several German schools in Egypt. Therefore, they conduct all their classes in German and follow the German curriculum. Many tourists come to Egypt every year and they hear many languages in Egypt like Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

People around the world are of the view that Egyptians follow and comprehend hieroglyphics. It is an old Egyptian dialect of the Pharaohs. The people who studied Egyptology and who are working in the archaeological field can only speak and understand this dialect.

10. Italian Language in Egypt

After the monarchy of the Italian community, the Italian community in Egypt started to grow steadily. According to the 1882 census, there are around 18,665 Italians. Moreover, after second world war 2, they reached approximately 55,000. Thus, making them the second-largest expatriate Italian community in Egypt.

The Italian speakers live in Alexandria and Cairo. They include professionals, merchants, artisans, and a large number of workers. In this way, many Italian words entered the Egyptian dialect.

11. English Language in Egypt

Egypt was under the rule of the Britishers until 1952. Therefore, they pass the language to the locals. People study English at school. So, if an English speaker comes to Egypt for a visit, Perhaps, they will not face any communication problems.

The important thing to note is that people learn English and French equally in schools. Therefore, people attending these schools can communicate at different levels according to their social and economic status. The elite class has eloquent communication skills.

Wrapping Up

People around the world have an understanding of the top languages of the world but what about the minority languages spoken in Egypt?  To understand minority languages, you need to hire a professional translation company. These companies will provide you with affluent translation services at a fast turnaround time and economical rates.


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