Having worked in Public Relations in Dubai for 7 years, I’ve come across a multitude of translated and Arabised writings and scripts intended for Arabic audiences whether on billboards, brochures or on TV.
We all know that each language is unique and has its own intricacies. For example, Arabic grammar and syntax is highly irregular, Arabic doesn’t have the verb to be and is the only language in the world that uses, not only singular and plural forms, but also a pair form. As a result, Arabisation can be a mentally-exhausting task and Google Translate is out of the question!
Arabic is a very rich language and is deeply rooted in poetry, literature and arts. It is, therefore, very descriptive and likes adjectives and elaboration. Which is why drafting an Arabic document is a lengthier process than drafting an English one for example.
Also, Arabic is not one of those languages that supports brief modern terms such as Internet or multi-device-compatible or colour-true. If I had to translate the latter, I would have to say ‘a colour that doesn’t change over a period of time’ or ‘despite erosion factors’ or something along those lines.
And then there’s the issue of transliteration, where the pronunciation of an Arabic word is transcribed into Roman letters such as Khaleej and Burj. This is commonly used in the Middle East and has become an accepted practice in PR and Communications, although technically, it is not translation.
Arabisation is also not only about conveying the meaning superficially, but rather about communicating to Arab minds and hearts, and thus, needs to take Arab culture and civilisation into consideration.
I’ll leave you now with some interesting facts about Arabic and some wise proverbs.
Did you know that…
- English numerals (1, 2, 3) were originally Arabic, while the current Arabic numerals (٣،٢،١) were originally Indian
- Some current modern-day English words originated from Arabic such as cotton, algebra and safari.
- There are more than 15 definitions of the word love in Arabic!
Some Arabic proverbs
- One hand alone cannot applaud (The importance of Teamwork)
- The son of a goose is a swimmer (Like father, like son.)
- Eat him for lunch before he eats you for dinner (Being street-savvy)
- The eye doesn’t go higher than the brow! (Live within your means)
Any interesting ones from your language?