Arabic Language Difficulties

Know Thy Customer: The perils of international businesses

One of my colleagues in Beirut, Lebanon forwarded the below anecdote to me humorously highlighting Arabic language difficulties.

Due to its relevance in localization, I felt compelled to publish it in this post. 

It ties nicely to our recent blog post we published on the lack of quality assurance that our industry is experiencing. Credit goes to its unknown author.


Tale of an International Salesman

A disappointed salesman of Cola returns from his Middle-East assignment. A friend asked, “Why weren’t you successful with the Arabs?”

The salesman explained: “When I got posted in the Middle-East, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch as Cola is virtually unknown there. But, I had a problem. I didn’t know how to speak Arabic. So, I planned to convey the message through three posters…

Arabic Language Difficulties

1st poster: A man lying in the hot desert sand, totally exhausted and fainting.
2nd poster: The man is drinking our Cola.
3rd poster: Our man is now totally refreshed.

And then these posters were pasted all over the place.

“Then that should have worked!” said the friend.

“Yes it should have!” said the salesman, “I just didn’t realize that Arabs read from right to left!

Arabic Language Difficulties

Arabic continues to be one of the most difficult language to support in the translation and localization industry.

This is due to many strict rules that professional like us have to adhere to.

Even when translations are flawless, mistakes in the execution can be deadly. Either the Arabic opens in a new windowtext is mangled, displayed from left to right, or non-cursive methods are used. All of these issues will render the text eligible. In consequence, all efforts to Arabize will go to naught!

If interested in high quality Arabic translation services, consider working with GlobalVision. The entire team that will be assigned to you speaks the language and understand all its difficulties and nuances. Give us a call today!

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