Official language to 26 countries in Asia and Africa, Arabic is also known as Modern Arabic. But while Modern Arabic is the official language, that does not mean that people in the streets are using it to converse with each other. Modern Arabic is usually encountered in prayers, literary documents, press and politics, although the latter is also rapidly changing. Each country has a different way of saying and pronouncing their modified Arabic words. Modern Arabic is more akin to Latin where it has been refashioned into different Romance Languages. In lieu of French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, in Arabic, we have Iraqi, Egyptian, Moroccan, Khaligy… If a Syrian man and an Egyptian man were to converse with one another, they will sound very different. An Iraqi person will unlikely be able to converse with a Tunisian person using their respective native dialects.
Spoken languages in the Arab world are still classified as Arabic, just under different dialects. Each dialect branched-off of the Arabic language changing due to the different areas’ histories, traditions, backgrounds and other cultural influences. Arab countries in Africa are heavily influenced by other African languages, while countries in the Middle East are influenced by Turkish and Persian.
A good example of the differences is to listen to how people greet each other. The Modern Arabic way of asking “how are you?” is, “kayf halik?”. The positive response is “jayid” (good). In Lebanon however, a person would simply say “kifak?” and people will answer “mneih”. In Egypt , they ask “izzayak?” and answer “kwayyis”. This is just an example of the many differences of Arabic dialects that we transcribed into the Latin alphabet for the benefit of our readers.
The Technicalities of Arabic
With the different forms of Arabic dialects, translation tasks can become tricky. For official or business records and documents, Modern Arabic is used and will be applicable to all Arab countries. However, when voice over or audio is involved, dialect nuances have to be taken into consideration to enable comprehension and avoid dismissal. Yes, Modern Arabic can be used still and will apply to all Arab countries, but the common person may laugh at the use of Modern Arabic in everyday life communications. Commercials, infomercials, promotional videos and informal communications can be much more effective when translated to the local dialects, which in a written form, do not have official spellings. Dialects will have to be transcribed in written-from Arabic!
Arabic Voice Over
In the Middle East, imported products are much more diverse than what is exported (oil, oil and oil!). The Middle East is abundant in oil resources, but lacks technological innovation. According to www.worldstopexports.com Saudi Arabia alone imports about 60 Billion dollars in technologically intense equipment like vehicles, medical devices, pharma, machinery, electronics, etc. 42% of their imports come from the U.S and Europe. While English is the most learnt language in the Middle East after Arabic, translating products’ videos, commercials, infomercials, multimedia presentations and other web content with embedded audio into different Arabic dialects will help improve a company’s visibility and acceptance by the masses. Proper Arabic Voice Over services are therefore an essential component in penetrating Arab countries with a localized product.
Voice Over Translation
At GlobalVision, we offer Voice Over Translation services that are sensitive to the Arabic language and its many dialects. We have translators, voice talents and engineers in the U.S.A. and the Middle East who are attuned to the many quirks and differences that each dialect poses and are accustomed to translating them into the required languages. Another helpful service is that we can translate into Modern Arabic and then edit the translation into each Arabic Dialect so that it can be understood locally. We can also assemble voice talents from all Arab countries and produce all your Arabic audio assets.
One Last Word of Caution
Arabic is a bidirectional language where words are written from right to left and numbers are written from left to right. This important and unique difference to only few languages can wreak havoc with your authoring or web-hosting tools if not handled properly. Many prominent companies made embarrassing mistakes handling Arabic. Here are a few examples below that we thought would be of interest to you. Don’t make the same mistakes!
- Arabic Localization, Going Backwards?!
- Do All Roads Lead to Rome?
- Lack of Quality Assurance
- Know Thy Customer