Arabic is a very rich and dynamic language with a sophisticated grammar system. This makes it extremely sensitive to work with. Due to its intricate grammar, the Arabic language requires extensive care during the translation process to ensure maximum accuracy.

Most common mistakes in English to Arabic translation service

In this article, we will look at 5 of the most common aspects for faulty Arabic translation, and what a good translator must do to avoid these pitfalls.

Literal translation

Literal translation, hands down, is the most cardinal sin in translation at large. Especially when it comes to translating between English and Arabic, literal translation will almost always result in an erroneous or weak translation, which is why it is difficult to translate between English and Arabic. Even if two sentences in Arabic and English seem identical at first glance, an expert translator should always look beyond the literal meaning and try to grasp the essence of the intended meaning. This can be uncovered by looking carefully into the context, the idiomatic uses of language, metaphors, and so on.


Mixing up punctuation rules 

Just as in literal translation, improper use of punctuation marks is a quite common mistake in legal translation practices from English to Arabic and vice versa. One especially common case is the use of commas. In English, the correct way to list items goes something like this: “Johnny bought some cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, and oranges”. As you can see, the conjunction “and” only shows up once in the sentence, and it is incorrect to repeat it before each item in the list.

In Arabic, however, this rule does not apply. On the contrary, repeating the conjunction “و” (Arabic for “and”) is not only okay, but it is the correct way of listing items, whereas the repetitive use of a comma after each item is optional.

So, to translate the above sentence into Arabic, the correct way to do it would be: “اشترى جوني بعض الخيار والطماطم والتفاح والبرتقال” (“ـJohnny bought some cucumbers and tomatoes and apples and oranges).


Incoherent grammar 

The Arabic language is considered to have one of the most complex grammar systems among most world languages. Its complexity stems from several aspects such as the concept of “harakat/حركات” that

control the pronunciation and meaning of words. For especially classic example can be seen in the words “بَر” (pron. ‘bar’), “بُر” (pron. ‘bur’), and “بِر” (pron. ‘bir’) all have completely different meanings. The first one means “desert/wilderness”, the second means “wheat/grain”, while the last one means “righteousness”!

As such, a professional Arabic translator must be well-versed in the ins-and-outs of Arabic grammar. They need to have a meticulous eye to choose the correct grammatical composition in the right context.


Improper use of vocabulary 

Generally, words tend to have several layers of meanings. Especially in Arabic, which is estimated to have upwards of 12 million words, one object may have dozens of names, each reflecting a specific aspect of meaning. The lion, for instance, is said to have 300-500 different names in the Arabic language. Each of these names reflects a certain characteristic of this beautiful, majestic animal.

The problem may arise when these words are misused, resulting in a prosaic and inaccurate translation.

A highly seasoned Arabic translator is therefore one who is well-versed in the subtle differences in meaning and uses the right word or expression in the right context.


How can hiring a professional language service provide help? 

By hiring a professional translation and language service agency, you will be entrusting your documents to a team of seasoned experts with years of experience in the field. Moreover, these agencies also have a dedicated QA team responsible for ensuring that every translated document is completely flawless before sending it over to the client.

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