5 Facts about The Arabic Language

Arabic language in Arabic

In the age of globalization and mobility, the world is becoming more open and interconnected. For this reason, many businesses are becoming more dependent upon supplying their products or services internationally. However, to achieve international success, you need to understand the diversity of cultures of your target markets and communicate with them according to their context.
Many business owners agree that Middle East is a fast-growing market of heavy consumers, which means that in order to do effective business in the Middle East, you need to think of localizing your products or services into Arabic, as Arabic language is a trendy language globally and is classified as one of the most important online languages (CSA Report)

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” Nelson Mandela.

Tweet: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” Nelson Mandela

The 7th Arab Social Media report indicated the increased usage of the Arabic language in social media. This was not a surprise, in fact, Arabic is one of the top 10 spoken languages, is spoken by 420 million people worldwide and it is also the official language of 26 countries. This trend has a huge impact on the way businesses engage with their potential customers in the Arabic markets, as they should consider making their products and services easily available to the Arabic-speaking world. This drives them to think about translating all kinds of content whether online or offline into Arabic.

We came up with few facts that can help you understand more about the Arabic language;

1. Arabic Language Dialects

Considering Arabic as a “Macrolanguage”, the Arab World has about 30 regional dialects including Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Classical, Colloquial or MSA! The three are different variants and forms of the Arabic language which are used in different countries by different nations. Classical Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran and is primarily used for religious and literary purposes. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the primary dialect of the Arabic language used in our official communication. The third form is Colloquial Arabic which is used in our daily life “street language”.

2. Written and Spoken Arabic

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is used in all writings and spoken in political speeches and in news readings. However, no one speaks it spontaneously. The Arabic dialects spoken in our daily life differ according to the region, which may be specific for a country, as Egyptian dialect is spoken in Egypt or common throughout an entire region, as Gulf dialect spoken in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This video shows the different ways of saying the same thing in Arabic.

Tip #1: When it comes to Arabic language translation in Business, you should first set your objectives, if your target is Arabic translation in general and not for a specific country, the best choice then is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), as it is the official language used in newspapers, magazines, marketing materials, studies, any official communication, etc. However, if you are targeting a specific Arabic speaking country, you may need to adapt Arabic into the dialect spoken in the target country, especially if you are using multimedia content.

3. Arabic is a Bidirectional Language

Unlike in most Latin languages, which read from Left-to-Right, the Arabic language belongs to the bidirectional languages that are written and read from Right-to-Left. However, some of this script is written from left-to-Right like numbers. The Number +12345 is not shuffled around to 54321+
Tip #2: When translating into Bidi languages such as Arabic, you will need to adjust the whole document layout, user interface, and overall design, starting from characters, marks, signs, graphs, and so on.


4. Arabic Numbers

Arabic numeric systems are divided into two kinds of shapes:
First: Arabic Shapes:
It’s the right way to write Arabic numbers. However, almost only the Gulf people use them regularly.
Second: Hindi Shapes:
It originated from India and are more commonly used among Arabs.
Tip #3: One of the most common issues you may face when translating into Arabic is the "Missing Numbers" and they are considered as false-positive issues. This usually happens with numbers 1 & 2, as the singular and dual forms in Arabic do not require adding numbers, such as "1 file", "malaf ملف" and "2 files", "malaffan ملفان", both already reflect the numbers 1 and 2 and do not require adding them.

5. Arabic is a Rich Language

Arabic is a language with a rich history, linguistic rules, unique characters and rich with many vocabularies. It has 28 characters that may take more than one shape according to its location in the word, such variations extend the Arabic characters into 57 shapes. This is known as “Concatenation.”
In addition, there are many Arabic vocabularies to express one meaning. Also, one Arabic word may give a completely different meaning with different diacritics; eg.: the word "مستخدِم mostakhdem" means "User", and the same word with different diacritic "مستخدَم mostakhdam" means "Used."
Tip #4: During the localization phase, take care of the diacritics. Using the wrong diacritics may result in different words that do not necessarily carry the same meaning. This will affect the pronunciation of words especially during the recording of the voice over.

As a result of the increasing global recognition of the Arabic Language and becoming a trendy language, many international companies are realizing the importance of making the online content available to Arabic speakers. So you need not only to convert your texts into Arabic, but you also need to adapt the text to the rich Arabic culture.
Check out our article: The Most Common False Positive Issues in Arabic Translation QA Checks 


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