Nowadays there are many different options at your disposal when you need to translate text from one language to another. All you need to do is look on the Internet and you will be met with a whole host of translating technologies and services. Nonetheless, the only problem, and it is a big one, is that these translation services are often inaccurate. This is especially the case when it comes to Arabic translations. To illustrate this point in further detail, read on to discover five problems that occur with Arabic translations.

  1.    Many Arabic words have several meanings in English – One big issue is that a number of Arabic words have numerous meanings in English. When using online translation technologies they have to determine which meaning to choose, which isn’t exactly an easy task! This is where translation vs interpretation comes in. An example would be ‘موقع’. When typed into Google translate this word comes up as ‘site’. However it also means status, rank, and position, and thus the potential issues are evident.
  2.    Problems with contrasting uses of coordinators and conjunctions – In Arabic, text often contains an abundance of ‘و’. They can be present at the beginning of sentences and even paragraphs. This can have a negative impact on the English text cohesion when translated using automated services.
  3.    Cultural differences can cause issues with translation – A good example of this is when indicating ownership of something. In Arabic, they use constructions that literally mean ‘mother of’, ‘father of’ and ‘friend of’. This is not used in English. Therefore, you could be describing your business as the best restaurant in a particular city, yet when this sentence is translated to English the restaurant becomes a ‘her’ or a ‘he’, which is obviously incorrect.
  4.    No diacritic renders makes it difficult to determine the meaning – In Arabic, a lot of diacritics are used. Diacritics are vital for indicating differences in pronunciations and meanings. However, computer translation services are not able to take this into account, and so the meaning of the sentence can easily end up muddled up.
  5.    Problems with The Definitive Article – Last but not least, there are automated translation services that do not deal with the definitive article effectively. This is used in Arabic, yet it must be eliminated prior to the English translation. If not, ‘الملك’ which means ‘King’ will be translated to ‘The King’ for example. This is vital for countries, cities, place names, institution names and such like.

So there you have it: five of the common hurdles people encounter when translating something into Arabic. Hopefully, this has given you some pointers!


Contributing Author