Linguistic issues in the translation from English into Arabic.

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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

from English into Arabic was literally as بيت اللوردات or بيت السادة it should be consider as mistranslation, even though the translation of each word separately is correct, but the translation from English into Arabic of such term is not correct and does not make sense, it should be translated as مجلس اللوردات. It is a common issue in the translation from English into Arabic, adapting a very literal approach of the text, what results in weak and not fluent text. This issue is very important when we do a translation from English into Arabic for a creative content, for example marketing texts should be approached in different way than technical or medical texts. When doing a translation from English into Arabic of a creative source we need to create a new text that feels as it was an original Arabic text not a translation from Arabic into English, this requires in first place to respect the Arabic syntax and Arabic sentence structure. One of the serious issues that affect a translation from English into Arabic is that the linguist translates from English into Arabic adapting the same English structure, while the Arabic sentence structure is different, this issue could be seen in all the fields but it is too obvious in creative translation form English into Arabic, it makes the target text not readable and not fluent, and could in some places mislead the reader, the common example of this issue in the translation from English into Arabic is the following example:

English source: the boy eat the apple, this sentence present the sample and standard structure of the English sentence, Subject-Verb-Objective. Some Arabic linguists would translate is following the same English structure as: الولد أكل التفاحة, while it is not a grammatical mistake and it is used in specific cases, especially for rhetorical purpose, but it is not the most appropriate translation, it is does not follow the Standard Arabic sentence structure: Verb-Subject-Object, so it should be أكل الولد التفاحة. Other issue we can see in the translation from English into Arabic is the agreement issue, unlike the English, the verb in Arabic has different forms according to the Agent in the case it was feminine plural, masculine plural or dual, and the last one does not exists in English. In English it is the same if the Agent was plural masculine or plural feminine, we say the men go to the work, the women go to the work, the two men go to the work or the two women go to the work. In Arabic it is not the same; the verb should agree in the sentence with the Agent, unfortunately, we see that many Arabic translators forget this rule when they do a translation from English into Arabic, so the examples above could be translated in the same way: الرجال يذهبون إلى العمل، النساء يذهبون إلى العمل، المرأتان يذهبون إلى العمل، الرجلان يذهبون إلى العمل, in all these translations except the translation of the first sentence there is an agreement mistake, all have been translated in plural masculine form, while they should have been translated in accordance with the Agent form:

–              The men go to the work: يذهب الرجال إلى العمل (الرجال يذهبون إلى العمل)

–              The women go to the work:   تذهب النساء إلى العمل (النساء يذهبن إلى العمل)

–              The two men go to the work: يذهب الرجلان إلى العمل (الرجلان يذهبان إلى العمل)

–              The two women go to the work: تذهب المرأتان إلى العمل (المرأتان تذهبان إلى العمل)

Other concerns we need to take in consideration when we have a translation from English into Arabic is the cultural sensitivities, this concern arise especially when we have a marketing text, the client wants to talk to some audience in their own language, but he does not know about the tradition, the life style, so if we do not pay attention to this details, the client message will not arrive or it could have an undesirable consequences, for example, it is not recommended to translate “Sunflower” in a translation from English into Arabic in a marketing campaign addressed to the Saudi market as عباد الشمس for religious sensitivities, as it will be interpreted as “sun worshiper” it is better to use the other translation “دوار الشمس”. Also, when the translation from English into Arabic will be published in a country of monarchy system it is better to avoid words, like king, queen, prince, etc…so it is better not to translate “the client is king” literally, but to find another creative translation which keeps the source message and avoid any misunderstanding, translation like>>>>>>>>>>>

This was a brief review of some of the many issues we could face when we have a translation from English into Arabic.