I am Chinese and I have difficulty reading Chinese texts from 1000 years ago. The average Chinese would find it even more difficult than me. The point is that, about 100 years ago, there was a cultural revolution in China.

So, was there any thing similar in the Arabic world?

Can an average Arab read Arabic texts that were written in 1000 AD?

  • 6
    My understanding, which may be wrong, is the following. There is something called Standard Arabic, which is more conservative and uniform than the various dialects such as Egyptian Arabic. The dialects are only spoken, not written. All written Arabic is strongly influenced by the Koran, which is 1300 years old. Any Arabic speaker who is literate is likely to spend quite a bit of time reading the Koran.
    – user2848
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:33
  • 1
    just like @BenCrowell pointed out, neither arabic or latin languages have suffered any radical change since it's written medieval ( <1000y) roots, and it's quite easy to, with the proper training ( hand written medieval cursives are a pain in both languages), read them without problems. Arabic ( and latin, and cyrillic) languages have well defined alphabets and are mostly phonetical languages, meaning that "we write how it sounds", now what "it represents", unlike chinese, if i'm not wrong, and that makes it easier.
    – CptEric
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 7:18
  • 3
    From my best knowledge, Arabic language is not just "Arabic language". The common people speaking, reading and writing different versions of Arabic all around the world, the Quran's Arabic is archaic, mostly only the educated people understand it without problems. I would assume 1000 years are decent amount of time for any language to change. For example, I can read 700 years old Hungarian, but I have to focus and think on all words to find out the meaning. Letters, sounds changed. I would assume it is same for Arabic as well. Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 8:54
  • 4
    I think you might get better answers here: linguistics.stackexchange.com . I upvote your question, but also voting for closing, because it is mostly offtopic. Perhaps it should be migrated there. Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 8:56
  • 1
    @BenCrowell Not all Arabs are Muslims and are therefore unlikely to spend time reading the Quran regardless to their literacy. Other than that, I agree with your statement. Quran is read throughout the Muslim World without any problems.
    – NSNoob
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 6:58


Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.