What Are the Specifics of Arabic Language Localization?

According to the number of native speakers, Arabic is the world’s fifth most widely spoken language. It is the official language of 26 countries and is one of the world’s oldest languages. Furthermore, millions of Muslims in other nations speak Arabic because it is the language of the Koran and the liturgical language of Islam.

The countries in the Middle East have emerged as one of the most attractive markets for doing business.

The tremendous business potential in oil-producing countries has led to a surge in demand for professional Arabic translation online.

In this blog post, I will guide you through the unique characteristics of the Arabic language and provide insights on what to consider before localizing your content into Arabic.

Arabic Language Variants

The Arabic language can be classified into three forms:

  • Classical Arabic (CA) – CA or Quranic Arabic is commonly used in literature and writing.
  • Modern Standard Arabic (MSA): MSA or fuS-Ha is the official Arabic taught in schools and universities across Arab-speaking countries.
  • Dialectal (Colloquial) Arabic: Dialectal or Colloquial Arabic varies from country to country and region to region. Find more info in the next section.

Arabic Dialects

Many national or regional dialects/languages formed from Classical Arabic are referred to be “Colloquial Arabic.”

In countries where Arabic is not the primary language or lingua franca, peripheral Arabic varieties can differ significantly in certain aspects. Several reports indicate that there are 25 dialects of Arabic spoken worldwide.

However, colloquial Arabic can be classified into six major groups:

  • Maghrebi
  • Sudanese
  • Egyptian
  • Mesopotamian
  • Levantine
  • Peninsular Arabic

Arabic regional languages can occasionally be so dissimilar that they are incomprehensible to one another.

The most widely used variant of Arabic is the Egyptian dialect or Masri, which is understood across the Arab world.

Lebanese Arabic is part of Levantine Arabic and is similar to Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian variants, but closer to the Syrian version.

Specifics of Arabic Grammar

  • Three digits (singular, dual, and plural).
  • The verb comes first in Arabic word order.
  • Adjectives are placed after the noun, not before it.
  • There are three “states” of nouns (indefinite, definite, and construct).
  • The letters are lined such that they cannot be separated across lines.
  • Most Arabic words have a three-letter root that expresses the core idea (only consonants are considered).
  • Then, before, after, or among the root letters, further letters may be added to further specify the precise meaning that the word must express.

Because of these specifics, each word must be carefully evaluated. A concept-by-concept translation, rather than a word-by-word translation, is required of an Arabic translator.

Language Localization in Arabic

The Arabic language is widely regarded as one of the hardest to localize. In Arabic, there isn’t enough linguistic study to produce the computer resources needed in today’s computing environment. Due to a lack of software support, Arabic presents some of the most difficult web localization issues. Translation into Arabic is, for the most part, an ad hoc procedure with no set methodologies to follow.

Many Arabic businesses have English-language websites, brochures, reports, and manuals, but none in Arabic.

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