Dialects and regional languages, Arabic and Chinese

As we open up to more and more languages, we will come face to face with the problems of regional dialects or languages.

In Chinese, for example, there are more Cantonese speakers who use simplified characters than traditional, but some great content from Hong Kong, and elsewhere is written in traditional. Should we have a Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Tradtional) language category? Should Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, Hakka, all be in both forms of the written language.

One other small problem, we cannot handle traditional characters right now. This is something that we will fix in the near future.

Also, I gather that with Arabic there are significant variations in the language. Should we just have one Arabic category, and then identify the region of the speaker? I think this would be best.

Similar problems will arise with other languages, such as modern and ancient Greek. Just looking ahead. Any thoughts out there?


for arabic, I think it will be fine ,if we know from where the speaker is.

I am so happy to see the possibility to learn Arabe on LingQ.

Steve, ancient Greek was one language with a few dialects. The main differences between these dialects concerned the verb and noun endings. However, grammar and vocabulary were the same. I think there is a bigger difference between Classic Greek and Koine Greek (not to mention Neo-Greek) than between the dialects of Classic Greek. So, I am in favour of one Ancient Greek slot with some “Accents”(uhm… not sure if accent is correct, since there won’t be many audio files…).

I don’t know how many differences there are within Arabic, but I would still keep it as one language with several varieties.

I’d keep Arabic as one language, and then separate them by region, just like we do with English, as there seems very little difficulty in conversing between different regions.
I’m really looking forward to learning a few words of Arabic, I’m hoping to persuade one of my learners to create some beginner greetings.

Written Arabic is basically one language and even if speakers will pronounce it slightly differently, it should all be kept in one section, but of course with a tag for the region or country. There is Modern Standard Arabic that you can hear on the radio and on TV, but people don’t speak like this. Still the written forms will be those of the standard language with some dialectal forms that will need explanations (notes, translations). It may be similar to the differences between Standard German and German dialects. If you understand the standard language, you can “easily” get used to regional dialects. If you study only the spoken language you won’t be able to understand a lot on TV or radio or read news articles.

It should be clear that beginner lessons must be in the standard language. However, there could be dialect versions of the beginner lessons for those who want to speak to people from a particular region.

I wouldn’t worry about different pronunciations of the standard language (e.g. some consonants). Students will find resources that explain the regional variations.

Please, fill accent list in Arabic. I’ve started to share some content and would like to mark it as “Egyptian Arabic”, but the list of accents is empty.

Thanks for the content. The Accents drop down seems not to work. I am sure our technical people will get on that as soon as possible. You will then be able to go back and add the accent. Thanks again.

In my opinion, we should have a Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Tradtional) language category. Personally, I would like to learn Simplified characters because Simplified ones are easier to write by hand than Tradtional ones although some Tradtional ones are as same as Japanese chinese characters.

@xena Could you possibly add some ‘no knowledge’ beginner lessons? Hello, Goodbye, Please and Thank you etc…?

Do you mean Arabic? I am just a learner, my native language is Russian…

I thought that as you were studying advanced texts you could perhaps provide some simple ones too.

@Xena - I have added that accent now. What are others we should be adding?

@mark - Could you add Flemish and Netherlands Dutch in the Dutch accents?

I’ve now added these accents for Dutch.

@alex - Thank you, I’ll edit my lessons right away.


Please can you import some more dictionary arabe/german.

As for Arabic, all my text books show, apart from MSA - the language of scholarship, technology, education, media, government etc - five major dialects:

North African

North African Arabic is very different from Standard Arabic and from other dialects. There are lots of French words, but also Spanish, Berberian, etc…

An Egyptian or a Saoudian wouldn’t understand anything, except some words.

However, Standard Arabic will give you vocabulary, even if the pronunciation is sometimes different. Speaking French there might be more useful than speaking Standard Arabic.

There is another problem with all of this, of course.

A dialect, isn’t just an accent reading a standard language. Egyptian Arabic is a language which isn’t the same as MSA (or the other Arabic languages for that matter). An Egyptian reading MSA is different from an Egyptian speaking Egyptian Arabic.

Putting a ‘accent marker’ on a text, doesn’t really solve any problems. If you want to only offer MSA, then it’s ok. Make sure people know they are not learning dialects with it. But, for those who want to learn Egyptian, Moroccan Arabic, etc, won’t find it here.

a I was thinking I can delete it.
here is writen"löschen"