There are many varieties of the Arabic language (dialects or otherwise) in existence within five regional forms. Arabic itself is a Semitic language that originated on the Arabian peninsula. The largest divisions occur between the spoken languages of different regions. Some varieties of Arabic in North Africa, for example, are incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker from the Levant or the Persian Gulf. Within these broad regions further and considerable geographic distinctions exist, within countries, across country borders, even between cities and villages.
Another major distinction is to be made between the widely diverging colloquial spoken varieties, used for nearly all everyday speaking situations, and the formal standardized language, found mostly in writing or in prepared speech. The regionally prevalent variety is learned as the speaker's native language, while the formal language is subsequently learned in school. The formal language itself varies between its modern iteration (often called Modern Standard Arabic or MSA in English) and the Classical Arabic that serves as its basis, though Arabic speakers typically do not make this distinction.