Problems we face when translate English to Arabic
when we translate English to Arabic many questions arise regarding cultural sensitivities, syntax structure, and the formatting and calligraphic characters of each language. The process we need to follow when we translate English to Arabic is governed by the same standards that should be applied to any translation, but when we translate English to Arabic we face certain issues that do not exist when we translate between English and French or other Western languages. When we translate English to Arabic we may face some problems stemming from the differences in syntax structure between the two languages.
Examples of the problems we face when we translate English to Arabic.
The regular Arabic sentence structure is nominal and verbal: nominal sentences begin with a noun or a pronoun, where as verbal sentences begin with a verb.A nominal Arabic sentence has 2 parts: a subject (مبتدأ) and a predicate (خبر), which means we can find a complete Arabic sentence that not have a verb, while in English a sentence must have a verb: for example a complete Arabic sentence like الكتاب ممتع, which we could translate into English as “the book is interesting”. If we need to back translate English to Arabic we have two options: we can either adapt the English sentence into Arabic following the Arabic syntax structure and create a nominal Arabic sentence, or follow the English sentence structure and translate English to Arabic literally. In this case we can say الكتاب يكون ممتعًا; in this translation we followed the English sentence structure, which is Subject-Verb-Predicate. Although it is true that this option to translate English to Arabic is grammatically correct in Arabic, the translation does not sound fluent and natural in Arabic. Another difference between Arabic and English, which we need to pay close attention to when we translate English to Arabic, is the difference in structure between the Verbal English sentence and the Arabic sentence. The Verbal English sentence follows the Subject-Verb-Object structure: this structure exists in Arabic,but the more common Arabic Verbal sentence structure is Verb–subject–object. When we translate English to Arabic we are supposed to provide a clear and fluent Arabic text, which means it uses the correct and most appropriate writing style, and not just an Arabic text that is merely grammatically correct. If we need to translate English to Arabic, it is important that we stick to the most common, simple and fluent sentences, and not just to check whether our sentence is correct grammatically.If we take the following example: “the boy eats the apple”, and we need to translate English to Arabic, we can stick to the source sentence structure –Subject-Verb-Object-translating it as: الولد أكل التفاحة, in this translation we have kept the English sentence structure in the Arabic translation, which is grammatically correct, but in fact in Arabic we use the Verb-Subject-Object structure rather than Subject-verb-Object, which does not sound natural or fluid in Arabic, because its usage is limited to rhetorical purposes, i.e., to place emphasis on some act or action. The correct approach on when we translate English to Arabic is to use the Verb-Subject-Object pattern and translate the sentence indicated above as: يأكل الولد التفاحة which sounds clear, straight forward and natural in Arabic.
Considerations to take into account translate English to Arabic
Many considerations need to be taken into account when we translate English to Arabic, in order to provide a natural-sounding, fluid Arabic text. We also need to pay attention to the post-translation step and review the final file format, which could be affected due to the differences in calligraphy between the two languages, especially when we use translation tools like Wordfast or Trados.
The kinds of problems we face when we translate English into Arabic.
We can classify the principal problems we face when we translate English into Arabic into four categories:
- Lexical problems
- Grammatical and structural problems
- Cultural problems
- Textual problems
In this article I would like to talk about the lexical problems which could face a linguist on we translate English into Arabic.
Lexical problems which we face when translate English into Arabic.
We can divide the lexical problems which we can face when we translate English into Arabic into various issues:
Homonymy: when we need to translate English into Arabic we sometimes find words that can have different meanings, such as “Bank”. This word is a good example of homonymy: it could mean the slope of land adjoining a body of water,especiallya river,lake, or channel, or it could mean a business establishment in which money is kept for saving or commercial purposes, or is invested, supplied or loans, or exchanged. The context will define which meaning we’ll follow when we translate. In reality, however,when we have a complicated text, or when we translate English into Arabic without a context, it will be difficult to ascertain which meaning is being referred to.
Polysemy: another problem we can face when we translate English into Arabic is the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase. A good example of this case is the word “tender”, which can have many meanings:
Easily crushed or bruised; fragile: a tender petal.
Easily chewed or cut: tender beef.
Young and vulnerable: of tender age.
Sensitive to frost or severe cold; not hardy: tender green shoots.
To make tender.
A strip of meat, usually chicken, often breaded, deep-fried, and served with a sauce.
Example of the Polysemy problems we face when we translate English into Arabic.
The text below provides a good example of the issues we can face when we translate English into Arabic:
The teacher asked the student to draw a right (Adj.) angle, but insisted that the student draw it with his right (N.) hand, even thoughthe student was left-handed. Of course he didn’t draw it right (Adj.),so the teacher gave him low marks. Right away (Adv.) the student complained that it was his right (N.) to draw with which ever hand he liked. The headmaster, who was a fair(Adj.) man, agreed that he was right (Adj.)
Idioms: the third kind of lexical problems we face when we translate English into Arabic is Idioms. We can divide idioms into two categories:
These are some examples of the direct idioms we can find in a text when we translate English into Arabic:
He serves two masters
It makes my blood boil
Lend me your ears.
Below are some examples of indirect idioms we can come acrosswhen we translate English into Arabic:
On the horns of a dilemma
Do your best
I hope you break a leg
How to handle such problems when we translate English into Arabic
The problem when we translate English into Arabic is how to handle such idioms: some of the examples above have a literal equivalent in Arabic, in which case there’s no problem, since we can simply use the Arabic equivalent and follow the original message and tone of the source. However, we need to decide how to translate the ones that do not have an Arabic equivalent: should we translate literally and provide some explanation, or do we need to translate the meaning? This depends on the nature of the source– is it literature, or a political or economic text, etc.?
This article talks aboutEnglish to Arabic transliteration to approach the writing of English names in Arabic characters in an Arabic text.
English to Arabic transliteration as option
English to Arabic transliteration is an option we need to use in certain cases where translation is not the best option. Why do we resort to English to Arabic transliteration? We basically use English to Arabic transliteration in order to convey the original English form of pronunciation as is; we use English to Arabic transliteration when we want to us keep people’s names, country names, and city names as they are in the original language. As a result of market globalization, technological developments and the increasing proliferation of products and brands we have more and more content to translate from and into all the languages of the world. In reference to English to Arabic transliteration, when aclient wants to marketa new product or brand in the Arabic world, or in a specific Arabic-speaking country, the question is, what language do we need to translate into: Modern Standard Arabic, a specific kind of Arabic, or the dialect used in the target country? The best option is to use Modern Standard Arabic, since it is the official language in all Arab countries. Once we decide to translate into Modern Standard Arabic arises, an essential question arises: how should we treat brand names, product names or any other proper names? There are different approaches to this question. Our first option is to translate from English into Arabic if the name has an equivalent in Arabic and the client wants to adapt the product to the local market; the second optionis to keep the English name as it is, which could be a good approachif the client wants to avoid any confusion withother products in the local market. Our third option is English to Arabic transliteration.
The use of the English to Arabic transliteration
English to Arabic transliteration is widely used inEnglish to Arabic translation of medical, political, literary, marketing texts, etc. This practice is often applied to the names of international organizations like UNICEF or UNESCO, the names of diseases such as Alzheimer, drug names like Aspirin, and to technology: every day many English terms enter the Arabic language and are written in Arabic characters following their original pronunciation. We can easily find countless examples of such terms in Arabic forums, newspapers, books, etc. Words like Wi-Fi, online, Internet, Facebook, Instagram, etc., in all these names the English to Arabic transliteration is used instead of simply translating them or keeping them in English.
Advantage of using English to Arabic transliteration
The English to Arabic transliteration of the names above provides a major advantage, since they have become part of Arabic culture organically, while at the same time remaining connected to their origin.
Why we use English to Arabic transliteration
We usually use English to Arabic transliteration rather than straight forward translation or keeping the original names in English,as it integrates the English name into the local market/Arab market while preventing confusion with other products or names, thus reaching the sectors of the target society who cannot read English.
We also use English to Arabic transliteration when we cannot translate the original name into Arabic for some reason, either because there is no an Arabic equivalent, or due to acultural sensitivity.
We also use English to Arabic transliteration because using English characters in an Arabic text can cause serious formatting issues.
Having said that, English to Arabic transliteration has its own issues and difficulties due to the differences in the way the alphabet is pronouncedin the two languages.
- The sonants in the two languages are not the same; some English vowels do not appear in the same way in Arabic, or can be written in a number of ways in Arabic, which can lead to confusion. For instance “heart” can be written either as هيرت or هِرت, because the letters “ea” can be expressed through the Arabic letter ي or the diacritic “ِ”.
- English to Arabic transliteration can give rise toproblems if the English name includes a letter that does not exist in Arabic,such as “P” or “V” which are written as “ب” and “ف”; these Arabic characters are pronounced like a“B” and an “F” in Arabic.
- Some English sounds have different Arabic equivalents depending on how they are pronounced in English:for example, the English letter “TH” canbe written in Arabic as “ذ”or “ث”.
- Some English words could have a negative impact or affect sensitivities in Arabic.
Conclusion on the English to Arabic transliteration
This was a rapid review of English to Arabic transliteration and its advantages and issues. Every instance needs a special and different approach and evaluation to decide if we need to go with English to Arabic transliteration or resort to another option, depending on product specifications, the market needs and the target audience; after evaluating the context, we can decide if English to Arabic transliteration is the most appropriate option.
I talked in a previous article about the problems and issues we could face when we have a translation from English to Arabic; here I wanted to highlight some more common issues. When we start a translation from English to Arabic the problem arises from the fact that the semantic equivalent in the target language (Arabic) cannot convoy the
When you have a translation from English into Arabic you may face some linguistic issues. The translator who undertakes to provide a good translation from English into Arabic should consider the cultural sensitivities and semantic concerns in to account. For example, if you ask someone to translate the following text from English into Arabic, the linguist could translate it literally, House of Lords, if the translation