This is an introductory guide for students of Arabic language, Arabic historical linguistics and Arabic socio-linguistics. New for this edition: a new chapter on the structure of Arabic; a new chapter on Pidgin and Creole varieties; and, data has been updated throughout in light of recent research. Concentrating on the difference between the two types of Arabic - the classical standard language and the dialects - Kees Versteegh charts the history and development of the Arabic language from its earliest beginnings to modern times. The reader is given a solid grounding in the structure of the language, its historical context and its use in various literary and non-literary genres, as well as an understanding of the role of Arabic as a cultural, religious and political world language. It covers all aspects of the history of Arabic, the Arabic linguistic tradition, Arabic dialects and Arabic as a world language. It makes links between linguistic history and cultural history. It emphasises the role of contacts between Arabic and other languages.