It is estimated that approximately 186 million people all over the planet speak Arabic. This makes it the sixth most popular language in the world. Moreover, it is used by a major part of the global Muslim population, since it is the language of the Holy Quran. Therefore its importance can never be underestimated.  As such, Arabic translation is required for medical, legal, financial, technical, and marketing purposes. It is also required for web-content translations.

Arabic translation requires understanding certain fundamental factors which are peculiar to the language. These are –

  • Arabic is written from right side to the left side of a page.
  • Arabic is written in two forms, one is called Classical Arabic and the other Modern Standard Arabic. A language translator should work in the form which is most appropriate to the nature of the document. Like religious or cultural content should preferably be written in Classic Arabic, while business related documents should be rendered in Modern Standard Arabic.
  • All letters in written Arabic are aligned to each other in such a manner that they cannot be split across different lines.
  • The Arabic script employs various symbols that emphasize different sounds. These symbols are combined with letters to convey the intended meaning. As such Arabic translation requires paying attention to very minute details.
  • Due to the fact that Arabic is written from right to left, the positioning of images on a page is also influenced and so is the numbering of pages.
  • Arabic letters take up more space than English ones, so in English to Arabic translation the translated document would most likely have more pages than the original.

On a more subjective level, there is the issue of Domestication and Foreignization. When an English to Arabic translation professional alters the source language to make it more comprehensible for the targeted readers, it is termed as domestication. On the other hand, when a language translation expert does not alter the values of the source language, instead choosing to make them prominent in the targeted language document, then the translated document, appears to have influences of the source language. This is termed as foreignization.

These two methods have attracted a lot of debate among language translation theorists since a long time. It has been found that a majority of the publishers prefer domestication because it makes the translated documents reader friendly. However since the values of the source language are somewhat altered, the author or owners of the original documents prefer foreignization.