Arabic Language Services Complexities

Do All Roads Lead to Rome? The importance of accurate Arabic language services

Arabic language servicesBidirectional language support is one of the toughest internationalization (i18n) issues that face software publishers, localizers and translation service providers. This is why Arabic language services are not as easy as others. 

Bidirectional Support for the Arabic Language

The ability to enter letters, numbers and symbols consistently from left to right as we do with most languages may not be very demanding. But the ability to enter Arabic, Farsi, Urdu or Hebrew letters from right to left, while also allowing inserting Latin letters, Indian or Arabic numerals and symbols from left to right within the same line, can be a challenging undertaking. This is particularly the case while correctly developing, localizing and using authoring systems and software applications.

Also, while many consider mirroring to be the correct method for handling localization into bi-directional languages, they forget to keep in mind that mirroring does not apply to the entire content. Numbers and, based on context, directional signals should not be changed. This is regardless of the bidirectional language opens in a new window or medium that the language is rendered in.

A case in point is an actual road sign, displayed in the picture above, that is used on the road in Lebanon. You can see how Arabic readers are directed to go into one direction, while non-Arabic readers are instructed to proceed into the opposite direction. Not intentional I assure you, despite residual local biases against foreigners!

Arabic Website Support

Similarly, when translating your company’s website into Arabic, you need to pay attention to bidirectional issues. 

Your Arabic language service should make sure that your website layout is fully mirrored. Right panels become left panels. Right aligned graphics will need to be left aligned and vice-versa. Tables will have to be mirrored as well and menus presented from right to left.

Arabic Language Services To Be Proud Of

Since from or into Arabic translation services can be tricky to implement, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. A simple mistake can be severe enough to defeat all your actions. So when in doubt, hire a professional. All roads may lead to Rome, but unnecessary detours can be quite costly and time consuming!


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