Arabic – العربية

Meet Noha, one of our Arabic Translators. Noha is from Cairo and holds a PhD in English Linguistics and Translation. She has delivered translations for clients as varied as the World Bank, Jaguar Land Rover and the Jumeriah Group, as well as teaching English at university for the last decade.

Arabic Around The World

If considered as one language, there are perhaps as many as 422 million speakers across the Arab world, however in reality as many as 18 distinct varieties exist, stretching in an arc across northern Africa to Western Asia. The most popular singular variant is Egyptian Arabic, with 89 million native speakers, and is also dominant thanks to Egypt’s rich cultural output, including TV and films.

It is an official language of 27 nations, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Chad, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates. The Arabic referred to in these cases, however, is what is referred to as “Modern Standard Arabic”, used in reading, writing and high-register speech. Arabic is also a liturgical language of 1.6 billion Muslims across the world and is also an official language of the United Nations.

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Translation: We recently handled a large project for a European defence company wanting translation of sales collateral, marketing materials and presentations into Arabic. We also regularly handle translation of Arabic documents for UK courts, the NHS and more.

Interpreting: We were proud to be able to provide experienced Arabic interpreters to the Foreign Office on long-term assignment in the Middle East. We also regularly provide Arabic interpreters to the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and more.

Arabic Translation & Interpreting

History of the Arabic Language

Arabic belongs to the Semitic family of languages, together with Aramaic, Amharic, Tigre and Hebrew. The Arab Conquests carried speakers of varied Arabic dialects across nearly all of the Middle East and northern Africa, into the Iberian Peninsula and across Asia to China. The word ‘Arab’ means ‘nomad’, and to chart the history of the spread of Arabic one really has to examine the early history of Islam, as the two are so closely interlinked. As speakers of Arabic spread and began to intermarry with indigenous peoples, so did the prominence of the language. Whilst some native languages are still spoken, the dominance of Arabic is unquestioned. For example, prior to the arrival of Muslims in Egypt, the preeminent language was Coptic, a direct descendant of the Ancient Egyptian language, but today Coptic survives only as a liturgical relic, used only by the Coptic Church.

Interestingly, as a result of the contact Arabic has had with other languages over the past 1,500 years, many languages have significant proportions of their vocabulary ‘borrowed’ from Arabic, including Persian, Turkish, English and Swahili. Spanish and Portuguese have a large Arabic vocabulary dating back to 800 years of influence in the Iberian Peninsula under Muslim rule.

A standardised Arabic developed almost simultaneously alongside highly distinctive regional variants of Arabic, now more commonly referred to as ‘Colloquial Arabic’. These dialects differ greatly from one another to the point of mutual unintelligibility. This divergence between Modern Standard Arabic and regional dialects has led to a phenomenon referred to in linguistics as diglossia. Modern Standard Arabic is of course not a native language to any speaker of Arabic, and speakers will often switch between Modern Standard Arabic and their local dialect, even in the same sentence. In Morocco, for instance, the language of broadcast television is Fusha Arabic, restaurant menus might be entirely in French, whilst patrons will speak a mixture of Darija (a colloquial Arabic) and Tamazight, a native language of the Amazigh peoples.

Our Arabic linguists are well versed in managing the differences between variants – use the link below to discuss your language requirements with us.

Arabic Translation & Interpreting

More About Translation

Meet Dawn, our Head of Translation

Dawn has a degree in French & German with an MA in Translation Studies. She and her team take care of over 1,700 complex projects each year for clients ranging from City banks, law firms, film studios, sports teams, universities and more.

What Goes Into High-Quality Arabic Translation?

We have a crack team of experts who will assess your documents on style, content, technical specialisms, etc. Your document is then loaded into project management software and sent to native-speaker translators selected specifically for your project.

More About Interpreting

Get in touch with one of our sales advisors and talk us through your event. We’ll discuss different interpreting approaches and help you decide which is most appropriate to your event, and also provide any specialist equipment required.

Get Your Quote Today

Find out how our friendly, professional team can help you with your language needs. We'll find you the best solution that fits your timescales and budget.

Get In Touch