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.