What You Need to Know to Better Prepare for Your Arabic Translation Project

The Middle East region has been a very promising market in the past years due to its significant economical development. Therefore, it presents a massive opportunity to businesses for market expansion.

Arabic is a growing language spoken by an estimated 420 million people, mainly from the Middle East and parts of Africa. Addressing this audience in their native language is essentially pivotal for growing businesses looking to expand to Arabic speaking countries. Given that website presence and online sales are becoming a hub for information, there is a need to translate English to Arabic to overpass the language barriers.

Targeting Arabic speaking audiences can present some challenges however that would need to be navigated carefully. For successful completion of your Arabic translation project, you would need to partner with a reliable professional language service provider with solid experience in Arabic translations.

Here Are Common Pitfalls

  1. Right-to-Left

First, Arabic is a right-to-left language. What it means is that layouts must be adapted so that the text and images that would normally appear on one side of a page should be flipped to the other side for it to be localized for Arabic speakers. For instance, Microsoft Office for Mac is not designed to work with right-to-left languages. It is not that Apple doesn’t support Arabic. Microsoft has not added this function in Office for Mac. Thankfully, you can activate Arabic language support within your Apple OS.  To manage such issues for our Arabic translations, we created our own fonts and styles that read Arabic characters using the same English encoding. It works well with all versions of FrameMaker, Quark, Mac DTP tools and even flash software.

  1. Dialects

Apart from accents and perhaps a few idiomatic expressions, English speakers don’t have much trouble understanding each other, be it as a first or second language. Unfortunately, in the Arabic-speaking world, things are different.

Besides traditional Arabic, several other dialects are used across the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, formal Arabic and the one spoken daily have huge differences. Because of this, you need to be clear about which variant of Arabic you want to translate to or basically which audience you wish to target.

  1. Vocabulary

Being a semantic language, Arabic has over 12 million unique words. This is massive when compared with English, which boasts a modest 600,000 words. Based on this alone, you can agree that the language needs a translator that has hefty vocabularies. To put it simpler, a linguist must know twenty times the number of words to be able to translate English to Arabic effectively!

As you could imagine, some Arabic letters have no English equivalent. Translating technical documents can be even more challenging.

  1. Untraceable 

One main challenge of English to Arabic translation is handling untraceable. For instance, the term access in Arabic does not exist technically. Likewise, some concepts that can be conveyed in Arabic in a single word cannot be phrased in English. Moreover, owing to the difference between the two languages, it is not uncommon to find three or more Arabic translation versions for the same text source. This is where lexical ambiguity comes in. It means that there is more than one way to translate a phrase or word which requires the translator to have a deep understanding of a subject matter.

  1. Culture & Religion

Did you know that in some regions that speak Arabic, using some imagery that is often considered normal in western countries would be treated as offensive? You will note that most companies just localize and translate their content into Arabic, while paying little attention to imagery, yet it plays a significant role in accurately conveying their translated content.

That is why you need to work with a translating company that has a professional team of native Arabic speakers for your Arabic translation needs. It is extremely important for a translation service provider to have strict QA procedures in place, including three-step TEP (Translation, Editing, Proofing) translation process.

  1. Type of Audience

Understanding who the document is intended for is extremely important for the translators as the language of Arabic translation should be tailored to resonate with the user with precise consideration of the level of education, age group and the level of technical knowledge of your target Arabic audience. Knowing your target audience along with the subject matter of your text will allow your language service provider to assign the project to the linguists whose skills best match the project requirements. The more information you provide to the translation company you work with, the better the quality of their translation will be and therefore help you better address your target audience.

5 Tips for Quality English to Arabic Translation Project

translate to arabic

Tip 1: Have a Plan in Place

Even before you consider what you should do to make your English to Arabic translation a success, make sure that the translation aligns with your business strategy. For instance, if your organizational strategy is to explore the Middle East and other Arabic speaking markets, then translating to Arabic makes perfect sense.

Tip 2: Understand Your Audience and Industry

As noted earlier, there are several variants of Arabic languages. So, you ought to understand whom you are targeting in the Arabic translation. To demystify your audience, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do they live?
  • What is their level of education?
  • Will they be looking for local references?
  • How do they process information?
  • What is their age group?

Understanding your audiences and their requirements is an important key to perform well in Arabic speaking market. To provide relevant content and its quality translation to Arabic do not cut corners when it comes to due diligence and attention to details, otherwise you risk losing credibility with your target audience which can seriously impact your business development.

Tip 3: Ensure that Copy Is Ready for Arabic Translation

Your documents should be well prepared for Arabic translation and be written in clear language. When the source text is written in poor English or is not clear, then it is harder to convey the message in another language, especially in such complex language as Arabic. Besides, it can complicate and potentially delay the translation process as the translators would need to send multiple queries and have things clarified.

Make sure that you don’t rush things and do several edits of your text prior to sending it off for Arabic translation. Providing well-written text for translation will help avoid complications of editing parts of the source document that have already been translated. A translator can work faster straight through a quality copy than having to go back to edit the document midway.

Tip 4: The More Technical the Content, the Higher the Need for Quality Arabic Translation 

For any content that will affect the bottom line or help customers use your product, you need to have a qualified professional translation company to work on your documents. You need a partner who understands the subject matter and technical aspects of your materials and has the experience required to translate complex text. You wouldn’t want to work with a provider who uses the same translator for all subject matters. A professional translation company would use the right professionals for the job those who work exclusively in the subject ares of your organization.

Tip 5: Localize and Make It Culturally Appropriate

Globalized translations usually work for audiences that speak the same language. So, it might be fine for some cases. If you sell consumer products, you may want to localize it to make sure the message resonates with your specific target audience.

Even more important is to make your content culturally appropriate. Not only should you ensure your text is culturally aligned, but also your images. This is particularly important for Arabic culture. Topics of significance to the culture such as religion, gender, sexuality, food, and politics should be treated with care. Additionally, you should be aware that some Arabic cultures are more conservative than others, so you would not want to offend them by being inconsiderate.

English to Arabic Translation Done Right

arabic translation service

As you can see from the above, English into Arabic translation goes beyond understanding the languages. There are several linguistic, cultural, and technical challenges that a translator must navigate carefully. A professional translator should convey the jargon, slang, metaphors, and other linguistic differences in a way that communicates best to your target audience.

So, as you plan to translate English to Arabic, make sure you have the right language service providers who will ensure that the message is clear and accurate, and that the translation is culturally appropriate. In short, your Arabic audience should have the same superior experience as your English audiences. That is why it is a smart idea to engage a professional translation service provider with appropriate expertise and linguistic, cultural, and technical knowledge to handle right-to-left languages. To produce high quality content for your audience, a professional who translates English to Arabic need to meet these requirements:

  • To have extensive experience in English to Arabic translation
  • To have a professional background in your industry or sector
  • To be a native speaker of the Arabic language
  • To live and work in the country of the audience of their translation

A professional translation service provider should be able to tap into subject matter experts that can use the terminology of your industry to your audience. Besides assigning your job to a translator whose experience and training best fit the job, the provider should also subject your work to a multi-phase quality assurance process. For quality technical translations, they should carry out thorough checks to ensure the language aspects such as terminologies, genres, and technical accuracy meet your quality expectations.

Improve Your Business with English to Arabic Translation

As you can see, to translate English to Arabic is not as straightforward as it might seem and is much more complicated than translating from English to French or Spanish, for example. We hope that these tips can help you prepare for your Arabic translation project, whether it is a technical manual, software or mobile app, e-Learning, or a website content you need to localize.

Having the right language service provider to take care of your translation and localization needs will eliminate the problem of misunderstanding with your Arabic partner or client, it will give you confidence to take on more complex challenges and further grow your business.

Please contact us to discuss the best way to handle your next Arabic translation project effectively and cost-efficiently. You can also upload your files for obligation-free quote.

Learn how we helped JSI Telecom to translate their technical documentation to Arabic and fully format it in FrameMaker.

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