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Brief introduction about Arabic

The official language of Egypt is the Egyptian dialect of Modern Arabic. Egyptian Arabic differs in that the letter jim is pronounced g instead of j. All Egyptians learn standard Arabic in school, so they would generally be conversant in it as well. As Egypt was a British colony, most educated locals would have learned English in school. Travelers are unlikely to encounter difficulties finding someone who speaks English, especially in tourist centers. Egyptians are eager to improve their English, and so offering a few new words or gently correcting their mistakes is appreciated.

Following usual rules of politeness, instead of simply starting a conversation with someone in English, ask "Do you speak English?". All the more better if you can do it in Arabic: te'araf tetkallem inglezi? "Do you (male/female) know English?".

However, most Egyptians not only speak English but also can speak other languages, specially in touristic places. This is helpful for Arabic learner and in daily life.

Note that Egyptians in the southern villages and in Luxor and Aswan speak a different dialect from Cairenes. Furthermore, resources to learn this dialect are difficult to find. If you know Cairene Arabic, remember that ق is pronounced "gah" instead of "ah" and ج is pronounced "jeem" as in classical Arabic instead of "geem." This should be enough for you to communicate, although many words are still completely different.


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