It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living from Mesopotamia in the east to the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai peninsula.
Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form (Modern Standard Arabic) .
Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages, mainly Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Valencian and Catalan, owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus.
Sicilian has about 500 Arabic words as result of Sicily being progressively conquered by Saracens from North Africa, from the mid 9th to mid 10th centuries.
During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy.
As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it.
Arabic is a Central Semitic language, closely related to the Northwest Semitic languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic and Phoenician), the Ancient South Arabian languages, and various other Semitic languages of Arabia such as Dadanitic.
The Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the establishment of the Central Semitic languages, particularly in grammar.