What should I know if my company needs an Arabic translation?

Published on 09/03/2021

Arabic translations they present many challenges that go beyond the alphabet and presentation: many parameters must be considered.

The number of speakers of Arabic is very high, between 300 and 400 million, and it is spoken in a great variety of cultures and with many variations. Most of the current translations into Arabic are grouped under the terms "classical, standard, modern, or literary." This article «Thinking Arabic Translation “ from James Dickins illustrates this and other points of interest.

If you need a translation into Arabic for your work, here you can find further information to guide you.

History of Arabic

History of Arabic

Arabic is the most widely spoken Semitic language, dating back to at least the 2nd century. It is distinguished by a very pronounced diglossia, which means that the two varieties of Arabic, the dialect and the classical, coexist.

Arabic is a language originally influenced by the poetry of the pre-Islamic era, which was written in ancient Arabic. Subsequently, Koran Arabic contributed to the development of the language of Muslim spirituality, which allows reciting the Koran and enables liturgical practices.

Arabic has also evolved at a regional level (we can also speak of the specific Arabic of each of the 22 countries of the Arab League: Algerian Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Lebanese Arabic, etc.). Therefore, these distinctions must be taken into account in the translation into Arabic.

How to translate and layout Arabic

How to translate and layout Arabic

Layout a text in Arabic is not easy. You have to go from the top of the page down and read from right to left. So, to read a book, you have to start from "the end", that is, from the back.

The sense of writing is inherited from the time of the Egyptian scribes, for whom it was the most appropriate sense to write on papyrus scrolls.

These are the other parameters to consider when translating into Arabic:

  • To display Arabic text on a computer in a word processor, you must have specific fonts installed
  • Arabic has neither lower nor upper case letters, but the difficulty is that the 28 individual letters change according to their position in the words
  • Most Arabic books are written without vowels

The most widely used Arabic for translations is Classical Arabic

The most widely used Arabic for translations is Classical Arabic

Unless you want to translate a special text, the language used for the translation requested by your company will be classical Arabic.

Classical Arabic is the language that foreign language students learn at university; it is also the reference language used by the media, including the famous television network Al jazeera.

Watch out! Classical Arabic is not anyone's mother tongue, it must be learned in addition to the mother tongue, so it will always be preferable to have a native dialect Arabic translator able to better understand the problems posed by diglossia.

The Arabic translation agencies employ, in the vast majority of cases, native Arabic translators.

Translation of expressions from Arabic

Translation of expressions from Arabic

The Quizlet website lists numerous idiomatic expressions from Arabic. From the outset, it is clear that translation of these Arabic expressions can be complex, which can be hampered by the following factors:

  • Regionalisms typical of certain countries or geographical areas
  • Big differences between literal translation and the real meaning of expressions
  • Expressions difficult to understand if only literal Arabic is proficient (i.e. only a mother tongue translator can grasp all its subtleties)
  • Specific expressions of Arabic that have no equivalent in Spanish

It should be noted that English and Arabic have been mutually influenced by the contribution of words from the other language. So it has been since the Middle Ages, as shown by the Wikipedia.

In summary, although Arabic is a very varied language and full of history, it is not the easiest to handle for ordinary people who do not have a basic knowledge of Arabic. To make sure you don't make any mistakes, it's best to contact a certified translation agency that translates into Arabic, as AbroadLink Translations.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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