Translate English to Arabic
Nowadays, globalization is helping the spread of languages, especially among young people to communicate or travel. This generation is encouraged to learn more than one language and earn money out of it as translators.
In this article, we will be discussing information about the Arabic language, its nature, and types of it, and finally, challenges that translators may face while translating from English to Arabic.
Arabic is classified as a Semitic language. It is related to languages in other subgroups of the Semitic language group, such as Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew, Ugaritic, Phoenician, epigraphic Ancient North Arabian, Modern South Arabian, and numerous other languages.
What you need to know about the Arabic Language
The Arabic language is spoken by 420 million speakers around the world. Yet, it is one of the most difficult languages to learn, coming second in the hardest languages after Mandarin (Chinese language). If your mother tongue is English, it would take you around 720 hours to learn Arabic. This is due to the nature of the Arabic language: the design and shapes of the letter, the grammar (Al Nah-o), and the diacritic system, known as (tashkeel).
Also read: 6 Facts about the Arabic Language
Classical Arabic: is the Arabic of the Qur’an considered to be the most perfect form of Arabic.
Types of the Arabic Language
The Modern Standard Arabic: is used as the official language today and is the modern form of literary Arabic but with some adaptation.
Slang Arabic (‘Amiya): is the everyday Arabic used in speech. Each country has a dialect and even in the same country could be more than one.
Let’s take an example on how to translate English to Arabic and Arabic to English, during the process of translation from Arabic into English or from English into Arabic, some factors affect this process. These factors are shown below as follows:
The Nature of the Arabic Language
- Arabic letters are 28 consonants vs. English 24.
- Arabic has 8 vowels/diphthongs vs. English 22.
- The Arabic text is read and written from right to left and in a cursive style, known as concatenation.
- Short vowels do not appear in the Arabic writing.
- No upper and lower case included.
- Punctuation is much looser than in English.
- English has about three times as many vowel sounds as Arabic.
- Problems appear in producing the “th” sound in words such as this and thin in English, and for Arabic, the “Khaa’” sound like in Aakhar and Ain sound like in Arabya.
- Arabic has no verb to be, and no auxiliary do.
- Arabic has a single present tense, while English has the simple and continuous forms. This can result in errors like “He going home”.
- Arabic does not distinguish between actions completed in the past, with and without a connection to the present.
- No modal verbs in Arabic. For example: From the possible that I am late (I may be late).
- Arabic nouns and adjectives can be both feminine and masculine.
- Dual state is different from the plural handling, which should be considered during translation.
Comparing Arabic to English, Arabic has 12.3 million words, while English 600,000 words. This is a huge difference that may lead to difficulty finding the right English word that expresses the meaning of an Arabic word and also comprehending what’s heard or written. While reading Arabic, one word with different diacritics gives two different meanings.
If you are translating into Arabic, you will probably face one of the following challenges:
Challenges in Translating into Arabic
- Arabic sentence structure is completely different from western languages and can get tricky.
- You must know which country/area your client wants to expand into. You will have to choose between using MSA or a specific dialect, as both are entirely different.
- Arabic has 30 dialects including Modern Standard Arabic. Choosing the right dialect could be challenging and it is preferable the translator is a native speaker of the dialect to be strongly familiar with it. The same word in two dialects can have two different meanings.
- There are no abbreviations as in English. Words need to be explained or leave the abbreviations as is (but also provide an explanation). This may have space limitation issues.
- It is not possible to divide Arabic words for starting new lines. However, if line justification is required, Kashedas ( ـ ) are used to justify the lines instead of adding spaces.
There is a privilege for Arabic speakers that in most of Arabic countries, English is taught as a second language in schools. This means a native Arabic speaker can translate English to Arabic writing and vice versa easily, but it is harder for native English speakers to translate to Arabic.