Palestinian Arabic is included in a subgroup of Levantine Arabic dialects native to the Arabs of the Levant, or the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean. It is part of Central Semitic languages of the Afro-Asiatic family. The language is written using the Arabic alphabet, also known as the Arabic abjad. The Arabic script has 28 letters, and it is written in a cursive style, from right to left. The alphabet does not have distinct lower and upper case letterforms, and it uses dots to distinguish between similar looking letters that represent different sounds. Just like other Arab-speaking countries, the people of Palestine speak various dialects of their language depending on their social groups and regions.

According to demographic statistics by the CIA World Factbook based on a 2014 population estimate, Palestinian Arabs constitute 83% of the West Bank population including East Jerusalem. The remaining 17% comprises of Jews. In the Gaza Strip, 98.7% of the inhabitants are Palestinian Arabs. In both territories, people of Arab ethnicity form a majority of the population, making Palestinian Arabic the most spoken language. The mother tongue of Israeli Jews in the West Bank territory is Hebrew, but the language is also spoken by many Palestinians including those in the Gaza Strip.

The majority of the Palestinian population can communicate in English, but visitors can still learn a few basic Arabic phrases to enhance their interaction with Palestinians. The expression for general greetings in Palestinian Arabic is assalāmu alaykum, meaning peace be upon you, and its response is wa alaykum issalām. You can also use the word marhaba which means hello to greet a Palestinian. The local phrase for welcome is Ahla u sahla or simply ahlēn, and the local expression used to express one's gratitude is shukran.

Besides Palestinian Arabic, other varieties of Arabic like Bedawi Arabic are also spoken in Palestine. The language is native to the Bedouins who are found in both enclaves of the state. There are also small populations of Domari speakers in the country. Dialects of the Domari language spoken in Palestine include Nawari and Palestinian Domari, which is listed as an endangered language in the nation. Foreign languages such as Amharic, Russia, Armenian, French, German, and Italian also have a few speakers in Palestine. The languages are brought by Jewish migrants, expatriates, or visitors since Palestine is a popular tourist destination.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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