Lebanon is a Middle-Eastern country located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, at the junction between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Lebanon is officially called the Lebanese Republic, and is home to around 6.007 million people. The country is predominantly Muslim, with Islam accounting for an estimated 56.3% of the population. Lebanon is also a founding member and part of the 22 countries which comprise the Arab League.

Arabic is the national and the official language used in Lebanon, but English and French are also used in the country. Two forms of Arabic can be found in Lebanon: colloquial Arabic, which branches out into many dialect varieties, and classical Arabic. Classical Arabic is the main language used throughout the Arab world, and is chiefly a written language. Arabic is used for public speeches and media broadcasts in Lebanon.

Lebanese colloquial developed from the Syrian Arabic dialect. This dialect includes the Arabic spoken by the Lebanese, as well as Palestinians, Syrians, and Jordanians, and has been influenced by Aramaic. Across Lebanon, the dialect changes from region to region, with the dialect spoken by the Druzes being regarded as distinctive.

Furthermore, other languages that can be heard throughout Lebanon include Armenian, an Indo-European language distantly related to English, which derived most of its vocabulary from Arabic and Turkish. Assyrian is a Semitic language and a modern spoken form of ancient Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. Syriac is mainly used for religious purposes, while Arabic is becoming increasingly used by the Assyrians as their spoken language. The other minority languages include North Levantine Arabic, as well as Kurdish, which is spoken by the Kurdish minorities living in Lebanon.

As for the Western languages that can be heard in Lebanon, the two main and most widely used ones are French and English. Despite French not having the status of an official language, nearly all government publications are published both in French as well as in Arabic. The influence of French in Lebanon is a result of the French mandate of Lebanon which occurred during the 20th century, and which placed Lebanon under the French Government from the years between 1918 to 1943.

The importance of English in Lebanon has increased since the Second World War, with some Lebanese authors choosing to write in French or English. Being fluent in French and English in Lebanon is seen as a sign of an educated person and is most commonly observed among the “elite”. Some French words have found their way into the Lebanese dialect as well, which is particularly common in Beirut. The Arabic literary style has also been influenced by the style of the Western languages, which is especially observed in poetry.


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