5 Surprising Facts On Arabic Translation: A Challenging Language to Translate

Introduction to Facts On Arabic Translation

Although the Arabic language is a hard-to-translate one, Arabic translation is highly important.

For entrepreneurs doing business in Arab countries, it is crucial to deliver their content smoothly and to follow up on what is happening in the Arab world.

However, Arabic translation is very challenging, and it needs more than a word to word translation.

Arabic Facts

The Arabic language is around 1,500 years old. It is spoken by around 420 million people around the world, and it is the main language of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arabic alphabet includes letters that do not exist in other languages, like “ض, ع, ق, خ”.

However, Arabic translators tend to combine some letters to give sounds that are close to the sounds of these letters, like using “kh” instead of “خ”.

Arabs use different words to refer to relatives. They use the word “ammah عمة” to refer to paternal aunt, while the word “khala خالة” refers to maternal aunt. Besides, the word “amm عم” refers to paternal uncle, and the word “khal خال” refers to maternal uncle.

Arabic Translation Challenges

Arabs use like to use figurative speech like similes and they use repetition, which makes it hard to translate the language word by word.

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The long sentences of the Arabic language make Arabic translation tricky as many languages, like English, use short sentences that are easier to comprehend.

Moreover, Arabic sentence structure has many variations, especially in literature, which needs a native speaker to translate.

Because the language is lexically ambiguous, Arabic translation can be confusing for linguists who don’t not have awareness of the Arabic diacritics, used instead of short vowels, like fatha(  َ  ), dammah (  ُ   ), and kasra(  ِ   ), as the diacritic can change the word’s meaning.

Moreover, in Arabic, many words can refer to the main thing, with slight differences in degrees and status. For example, Arabic has 100 different words referring to camels.

Translating Figurative Speech

Arabic is a poetic language full of figurative speech. The same word can be collocated with different words to mean totally different things.

For example, the terms “saheb el galala صاحب الجلالة” means his majesty, while “saheb el ma’aly صاحب المعالي” means the minister. Arab writers like to use polysemy in the same texts to show their poetic and stylistic abilities, which makes literature translation a huge challenge for non-Arabs.

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Literal Translation is Never Enough

The Arabic language has many unique untranslatable that cannot be expressed in one single word in the other language. For example, the word “tarab طرب,” means a certain level of joy reached while enjoying music, which is translated as “tarab” to convey its special meaning in Arabic.

Moreover, Islamic context has many of these unique words like the word ‘zakat زكاة’ which cannot be simply translated into charity but needs to be explained.

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Moreover, some Arabic words will be very awkward if they are literally translated.

For example, the word “saratan el bahr سرطان البحر” would be literally translated into “sea cancer” instead of its correct unliteral translation “lobster”.

Arabic Localization is the Solution

To face the challenges of Arabic translation you need a team of linguists who will conduct deep research and localize your content into Arabic, or from Arabic into your target language.

Moreover, your Arabic translation provider will need to have desktop publishing (DTP) experts as Arabic is a right-to-left language that tends to get longer sentences compared to the source language.

bayantech is the perfect choice for you. With our team of professional native-speaker translators, you can rest assured that your Arabic translation will be delivered in high-quality.

Contact us to discuss your Arabic translation project.

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