Arabic is the official language of Lebanon and the language spoken by all its residents, although pronunciation and vocabulary vary due to regional dialects. Arabic is written using a distinctive flowing script that is read from right to left.

All educated Lebanese speak at least one second language. When Lebanon was under French mandate, most Lebanese learned French. Today, most government publications appear in both Arabic and French, and students must study either French or English in school, in addition to Arabic; increasingly, students are choosing to study English instead of French. Lebanon's small Armenian minority also speak their own language.

In speaking to their parents, teachers, and other people they respect, Lebanese usually speak with great consideration. They weigh their words before they speak in order to ensure they are putting across their message in the right manner. As in many Arabic countries, the Lebanese also typically use hand, shoulder and head movements as part of their expression. For example, a person may say no just by raising her eyebrows and lifting her head back a little, sometimes making a tsk-tsk noise. Shaking the head from side to side indicates lack of understanding, not disagreement.

When greeting very close friends and relatives, most Lebanese kiss on the cheeks. Many parents kiss their children whenever they leave or enter the house, believing it makes them feel more secure and loved.

When meeting or saying goodbye to acquaintances and strangers, most Lebanese shake hands. Very orthodox Muslims shake hands only with members of the same sex and do not look the opposite sex in the eye. Instead, a man will greet a woman by placing his right hand flat upon his chest, while the woman will nod her head or place her right hand lightly over her chest.

  Did you know?
Newspapers flourish in Lebanon. Nearly every political party publishes a newspaper. Currently, the country publishes 40 dailies, plus many weekly and monthly publications.

English Arabic
Welcome Ahlan wa sahlan or Ahlan
Hello Marhaba
Good morning Sabah al khayr
Good morning Sabaah il-kheer
Please Min fadlak (male); Min fadlik (female)
Thank you Shukran
Yes Aiwa/na'am
No La

  Did you know?
As elsewhere in Arabic countries, Lebanese greetings are formal and lengthy. The expression for goodbye (allah ma'ak) means "Go in peace, God be with you." Guests may be welcomed into a home with the expression ahlan wa sahlan, meaning "you are in your family on a ground without stumbling stones."