Mobile menu

Translating slang into proper Arabic
Thread poster: Maryse Trevithick

Maryse Trevithick  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:47
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Sep 29, 2008

What is the best way to translate a conversation in English slang into Arabic? Would it be better to do it in a colloquial Arabic or we can still translate it into proper Arabic, preserving somehow the "slangy" side of it?

Appreciate all help.

Direct link Reply with quote
Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
+ ...
There is no right answer Sep 29, 2008

Translation is a notoriously situational art. Many factors need to be considered in every situation:

- How "slangy" is the source text?

- How essential is the slangy nature to the purpose of the text?

- Will the ultimate medium of the translation be printed or spoken?

- What is the purpose of the translation? Is for documenting the content of the exchange, or is for sheer entertainment and/or humor?

- Is the intended audience limited to one region that speaks one dialect, or is it intended for an Arab-wide audience, Gulf to Ocean?

These are some of the considerations. And even when we have answered all of these questions, it will still be possible for two intelligent translators to favor one approach rather than the other. And there is a lot of middle ground that has been explored by many writers of fiction (consider, for instance, the writings of Ghazi Al-Gossaibi). I am not necessarily endorsing his approach, but it is out there.

Direct link Reply with quote
shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
English to Arabic
+ ...
Second Fuad Yahya's good comments. Slangy English > formal English > formal Arabic Sep 29, 2008


I second Fuad Yahya's good comments.

May I add an observation:

Unless you positively, absolutely, unavoidably **have** to render some "colloquial English" text into some equivalent matching form of "colloquial Arabic" (i.e., actually, into a regional variant, such as Cairene Egyptian, Baghdadi, Damascene, Emirati Gulf, or Saudi Najdi or Hijazi or Hassawi dialect), you might well do some refinement of the "slangy English" into > formal literary English and then translate that into > formal literary Arabic.

Another factor is that slang utterances in any language are wrapped in subtleties of culture and context (especially when jokes, puns or allusions are expressed) which rarely convey to another language with even-close fidelity, if at all.

Accordingly, attempts at rendering "slang English" into some sort of "slang Arabic" will multiply the fogginess and unintelligibility of the synthesized translation to a readership or audience.

Hope this helps.

Khair, in shaa' Allah.


Stephen H. Franke
San Pedro, California

[Edited at 2008-09-29 18:26]

[Edited at 2008-09-29 18:26]

[Edited at 2008-09-29 18:50]

Direct link Reply with quote

Ayman Medarwash  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:47
English to Arabic
+ ...
Contextual Meaning Oct 4, 2008

The game of Translation, I call Contextul Meaning which simply means what Faud said and I support every word he said Study the nature of your source language and teh appropriate associated contextual meaning; the get answers for all these question Faud suggested then you will know how to phrase this source file in a proper Arabic language.

Direct link Reply with quote

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Translating slang into proper Arabic

Advanced search

Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
Wake up in the Morning and see that you have sold TMs and made Money overnight

The TM Market Place for Translators
New: Our Instant TM Download
TM owners: Upload your TMs into the online database
Customers: Analyse your text & instantly download a text-specific TM
Well over 1.2 BILLION translation units

More info »

All of
  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs