Challenges of Arabic to English Translation

Definition of ‘translation’ shown in a closeup of a dictionary page


The Arabic language is a very complex one, particularly if you have plans to translate Arabic content to English or the other way around. Arabic has been classified as a part of the Semitic language family, with English being part of the Indo-European family of language.

To standardize the written communications in the Arabic language, the MSA or Modern Standard Arabic is the language used in the broadcast media and Arabic publications. This is different from classical Arabic and regional dialects.

Problems with translation can be divided into cultural and linguistic categories. Linguistic issues include morphology, lexicon, text differences, syntax, pragmatic factors, and rhetorical differences.

Cultural issues arise for Arab translators that may find specific Arabic phrases with no English equivalents.

Arabic translation to English done by humans is already difficult enough yet machine translation can present more issues when trying to translate between the two languages.

There are several issues faced with the use of machine translation from Arabic to English. These include the following:

  • Arabic alphabet comprises of 28 letters and several of them don’t have an equivalent in English.
  • Arabic words and terms can have different meanings.
  • Arabic phrases are syntactically complex and unclear for machine translators because of grammatical relationships, order of content and words.
  • The structure of the sentence is complex.
  • The Arabic sentences are very long.

According to a study, it was revealed that many students encounter some problems when translating Arabic to English. These issues include unfamiliarity with the cultural expressions, ambiguity of several cultural expressions, and failure to achieve the second language’s equivalence. Some also don’t have knowledge of translation strategies and translation techniques.

There are other challenges of Arabic to English translations. If you want to save yourself from such challenges, make sure to consider Arabic to English professional translation service online. Only translators with solid understanding of the language and its particular differences and rules can translate it accurately and interpret the implied meaning.

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