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AL Arabic

It may sound like a self-serving statement for an Arabic content professional to advise PR agencies to outsource their Arabic content to, well, his own company. But I do get this question a lot from clients, current and potential: Why would it be better to use a professional Arabic content provider than to hire our own team?

As a high executive, your responsibilities will surely include speaking for your company, whether to the media or directly to final audience in conferences. While many executives in Dubai and the UAE in general master public speech to varying extends, speaking to the media, especially TV studio interviews, remains a major challenge. The good news is, it does not take much training to master the basic skills you need to be able to express your knowledge in a well-organized and structured manner.

As Arabic content specialists, we often get asked by non-Arabic speakers to create or translate content to "Saudi Arabic", "Egyptian Arabic", or other forms of alleged locales wrongfully thought of as registers of Arabic language. However, only two registers of Arabic exist: Classical Arabic (CA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Local dialects are not registers of Arabic, they are spoken forms of Arabic that lack the main constituents of languages: grammar, semantics, and pragmatics. With only few exceptions, dialects are not used in formal writing or published content.

Google Translate provides its users with a genuine value for their everyday linguistic needs. Nevertheless, the very name of this service has become a synonym of some horrible translations, at least in the Arab World. Most professional linguists are fully aware that receiving a feedback from their clients with “This is Google translated”-like phrases is their worst nightmare. The yet unanswered questions are about the reasons that make machine-translation way behind when it comes to Arabic language, and what Google is doing to enhance this service.

 

In the crippling agency model in translation project management (see here, here, and here), the role of reviewers (sometimes called editors, or QA Officers) requires some serious rethinking.

 

Unfortunately, The Arabic translation market lacks solid practices in terms of Quality Assurance (QA). In this brief post, we will illustrate AL Arabic’s English to Arabic QA guidelines followed by our in-house QA officers.

 

During my 10 years of experience in training and learning, and specially while developing my Arabic as a Second Language course over the past three years, my primary goal was to apply Accelerated Learning (AL) methods to all my training programs. However, language learning has its own special requirements that makes creating a special version of AL techniques specific for Language training a necessity. This is where the MAP Technique (Motivate-Anchor-Personalize) fills the gap.

 

This is the first post in a series of posts dedicated to casting some light on the most important challenges that face the Arabic localization industry. There is no doubt that the Arabic translation sector requires an overhaul, both in quality measures and the business model itself, as manifested by seeing huge multinational corporations who spend millions on communications and PR settle with less-than-mediocre Arabic versions of their documentations, including giant automobile manufacturers, iconic technology companies, huge retailers, and even highly esteemed PR agencies.

 

In this post, I will discuss the challenge of talent drainage and experience retention. This will be the second post in a series of posts about challenges facing Arabic Translation and Localization.

 

The Arabic translation industry suffers high “bounce rates”. By this, I mean the tendency linguists have to think of translation and localization as a source of extra income, not a career, as well as the high rates of linguists leaving the industry when offered a chance. On the other hand, practices adopted by many localization companies does not allow for proper experience building and continuous learning. This situation, that has been hindering the industry for decades, is the result of the accumulation of many different factors, namely:

 

Summary: Acronyms and names of companies, projects, and entities should NEVER be translated. They should be researched.

 

The issue of translating names and acronyms may not be as challenging in Latin and Indo-European languages as it is in Arabic translation. There are many reasons for this differentiation, including (but not limited to):

  1. Sharing the same alphabet between most languages in these two large families of languages (Latin and Indo-European) makes names and acronyms easier to adapt.
  2. Historically, Arabic is not a language that uses acronyms. It is a descriptive language that uses long phrases to describe subjects.
  3. Not all sounds in Latin and Indo-European languages are available in Arabic, and vice versa, which sometimes creates endless possibilities when transliterating.
  4. Arabic does not have upper case and lower case letters, in other words, Arabic letters can be written stand-alone, which makes abbreviations challenging in this language.
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