The linguistic Adaptation in the Arab Market

The linguistic adaptation in the Arab market

Translation into languages such as English, the Spanish or German presents specific difficulties. But adapting language to other languages such as Arabic, present in 25 countries and as different from European languages as graphic as culturally, is a challenge.


When we want to translate into Arabic, we need to know what variant of Arabic is, since there are three different Arab: classical, modern standard and the oral or dialectal. The first is only used in written texts, is the language of the Koran, classical literature and cultural documents. The second variant of Arabic is that everyone speaks and understands. It is the official language of the Government, which is taught in school and which is used in the media. Finally, the Arabic is divided in different regional languages according to the geographical areas in which it is spoken. Includes four major groups: Egyptian Arabic, the Maghreb, the Levantine (from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) and the Arab Gulf. Sometimes, these dialects are so different that their speakers cannot understand is among them.


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Translation into Arabic is considered to be one of the most complex in several respects.

In linguistic terms, the documentation is difficult since, nowadays, there are few relevant and reliable electronic resources.

In the cultural field, the differences are mainly related with the predominant religion. In Europe, much of the annual festivals has its origin in the Catholic religion, while the calendar of most of the Arab countries is governed by Islam. This important difference should be taken into account when establishing the strategy of company, since, for example, Christmas or Easter commercial campaigns will not be relevant in much of the Arab world (nor can forget that there is an important Christian community in countries like the Lebanon or Syria). Translators are aware of these difficulties and are capable of dealing with them thanks to their good knowledge of the culture of the country of destination.

A company seeking to bet on the Arab market you need to carry out specific campaigns for Muslim religious festivals, such as the celebration of the sacrifice after Ramadan, when most of the stores are knock-offs. Ramadan can also lead to the sale of agri-food products, mainly drinks and sugary products. Therefore, in any case, will be required a true linguistic adaptation, performed with aid of specialists in this market.


Finally, the Arabic translation presents significant problems of layout or design that we must not pass over, for example, when adapting the commercial documentation. In addition to a few characters and a score, the direction of reading, from right to left, is also different with respect to the European language. The text and images from a Spanish brochure will be fully invested. In addition, Arabic words are composed so that they cannot be separated at the end of line and numbers are written differently depending on the geographical area. In North Africa are used the Arabic numbers while in the Middle East and the Gulf countries the Indian numbering is used. Arabic linguistic adaptation cannot be improvised and consult professionals for translation as well as for the commercial strategy aimed at this market.