Translating for the Arabic-speaking World

How do you begin to market to 300 million Arabic speakers worldwide? Is there such a thing as standard Arabic? The short answer is yes; the long answer is yes...and no. An understanding of Arabic's history may help raise your voice in and help define your global business strategy for this huge linguistic region.

Three Secrets of Learning Arabic

May 9, 2011 by Garner Gollatz
Category: "Spot" on Language

Arabic, the Middle East's most widespread language has a unfamiliar alphabet, a fiendishly complex grammar, and a vocabulary enriched by 1400 years of literary culture. According to the U.S. State Department, only Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese are as hard for native English speakers to learn.

Still, maybe you're undaunted. Maybe you need to learn Arabic for your career. Or maybe you're one of those travelers who long to step off the tourist trails and immerse themselves in a fascinating new culture.


If you've had some experience with foreign languages, you already have an idea of what it takes — above all, an appetite for hard work. But Arabic has special features that make it a different challenge from, say, Spanish or French. Here are few tips to make your journey easier.

Practice your ‘ayns. Unfortunately, Arabic has several consonants that don’t exist in English or any other Western language. The king of these is the ‘ayn (Arabic ع)—a perfectly ordinary sound for native speakers, but a major challenge for most novice learners, since it’s pronounced with muscles English speakers rarely use in speech. With diligent practice, though, even the ‘ayn can become second nature. If you put in the time and effort to master it and other difficult sounds at the outset, you’ll spare yourself a lot of trouble in the future (and perhaps impress new friends abroad with your accent).

Trend Alert: Foreign Language Media Gaining Ground

August 26, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: International & Global Translation Services

al jazeeraWho knew what Al-Jazeera was 10 years ago? Not many people in the U.S., that's for sure. The only access that Americans had to foreign language media sources was through special cable subscriptions, and a lot of foreign channels were simply not available in many American markets.

That's no longer the case. Satellite television has brought foreign channels into many American homes. And as people consume media in an increasingly diverse amount of ways beyond newspapers and television, other media sources are getting attention from Westerners.

From North Korea's national Twitter account, in which anyone in the world can read the "pronouncements of the state," to TwoFour54, an Abu Dhabi-based media company that uses TV, radio, film and video games to broadcast its message, foreign language media sources are gaining strength.

Arabic-English Translation Website Aims for Peace

meedan logoMeedan, a new website launched last month, will attempt to cultivate citizen diplomacy between the Middle East and the West by eliminating the language barrier, reports Wired.

Meedan, which aptly means "gathering place" or "town hall" in Arabic, is a project of a five-person non-profit, funded with grants from large foundations (e.g., Ford, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Cisco).

Visitors to the site post stories and comments on featured news stories in English or Arabic, and their text is automatically translated into the other language. Translation "status" is always clear, and Meedan also publishes the full history of each translation to the public, similar to Wikipedia.

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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