Professional Arabic Translations

Factors to Consider to Ensure Professional Arabic Translations

To produce professional Arabic translations, it takes more than the ability to speak and write Arabic fluently. It’s important to translate so that not only the literal meaning, but also the tone and intent, are understood.

One important factor involved in the production of professional Arabic translations is cultural differences. When cultures are very different, the phenomenon of “cultural translation” comes into play. For example the word “owl” symbolizes different things in English and Arabic. In English, the owl represents wisdom, but in Arabic it has a very negative connotation, as it represents pessimism. The real challenge comes when a concept does not exist in the target culture for your translation. In such circumstances, the translator has to find a way to explain the concept so that the text makes sense as a final product that is easily understood by the intended audience. Here are two examples:

سحور sehuur (food that is eaten before dawn; see picture above);
تيمم  tayammum (the use of sand to cleanse the body when water is not available)

The second factor hindering the creation of professional Arabic translation involves grammatical differences. Arabic and English belong to extremely different language families, and their respective grammars are sharply different. The different grammatical structures of languages often pose problems for translators. Therefore, translators must be well acquainted with the grammars of the languages they are working in.

The diversity and stylistic variations of Arabic dialects are important elements that enter into the production of professional Arabic translations. Although classical Arabic remains the common denominator for all Arabic-speaking countries, there are differences between the dialects used in these countries .The variations in local dialects can be issues when translating into Arabic, as sometimes vocabulary and idioms can carry different meanings from one Arab country to another.

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