The difference between the dialects?

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England, English.
The synopsis of a book titled "Colloquial Arabic" says: "...the Arabic in use in the individual countries can differ as widely as Spanish and Italian.

I had no idea it was quite like this. I suppose it depends on many factors, such as, who is speaking. Does this comparison hold a lot of truth behind it?

Does learning MSA even give me much of a head start when I eventually start learning one of the dialects? It slightly worries me because I want to learn a language that will allow me to converse, which I know is possible to a certain extent with MSA, but I've only read countless times that it's not really appropriate.
  • MarX

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    Hej Alchemy!

    From what I read in the thread "MSA in everyday speech, how does it sound?" started by Mushkalji, it is normal for a foreigner to speak MSA in everyday speech, it only sound unusual for a native speaker using it outside of formal contexts.

    As for the differences between the dialects and how much MSA helps, I unfortunately cannot answer them. But I'm sure you'll get much info by skimming related threads. ;-)
    Good luck!

    Edit: The thread entitled "How many dialects" started by Bilbo Baggins might help you.


    MSA will enable you to read everything that is written in Arabic.

    MSA will allow you to converse with, almost, anyone who speaks Arabic. It would be unusual if a native spoke in MSA; but for a learner, it is fairly ok.

    Of course MSA is not a total different from spoken dialects. There is VERY much in common; dialects are offshoots of classical Arabic that tend to be simpler.

    People usually tend to exaggerate about the difference between MSA and the dialects, mainly because of the disappointment when they discover how many differences there are between them.

    For most spoken dialects, you will use the same pronouns that you learned in MSA, the same prepositions, the same verbs in general. The difference is mainly about pronunciation, more than it is about new words.
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