Did you know Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world? It takes 10 years of learning to reach an intermediate level. Today we celebrate its rich culture by bringing some tips to reduce pain when translating it.
There are many cultural treasures written in this ancient language such as the poems of Ḥāfeẓ and Ahmad Shawqi. One of the unique characteristics about Arabic is its writing system is not based on an alphabet but on an abjad. By this, each letter represents a consonant but the reader provides the vowel.
World Arabic Language Day
is celebrated every year on 18 December
For a translator, it is important to understand that spoken Arabic has a variety of dialects according to the area where it is spoken, and it differs from Modern Standard Arabic which is used in formal speech and writing.
Here are some interesting facts about Arabic:
- It is important to understand the text both linguistically and culturally.
- Since Arabic does not have short vowels, written words are often ambiguous and misunderstood.
- The language does not have the same verb tenses as English, only present and past. Future tense is indicated by the prefix sa-. For example, there is no present perfect conjugation of the verb to be.
- Arabic has verbal and nominal sentences; the sentence structure does not need verbs and typically includes two nouns only.
- Arabic text is read and written from right to left, being the biggest challenge in translation. A graphic designer or DTP specialist with understanding of the challenges in Arabic is needed to complete formatting.
- You will need to work with verified fonts, but be careful since there are some which miss some characters. Google Noto Fonts is a good free option, but has some style limitations. We recommend that the client buy a verified set of fonts of their preference.
- At last, always make use of software compatible with Middle Eastern languages.
Arabic is a language that not only opens the doors to a fascinating new world, but it’s also the gateway to an ancient an enigmatic world that attracts more and more learners. Arabic translators are in high demand and quality translations are scarce. To learn more about our Arabic Language team, contact us to speak with a consultant.