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Arabic, women language workers in a disadvantageous position ?
Thread poster: xxxwonita
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 18:56
Aug 2, 2008

Hi all,

a few years ago I did the language input and voice recording for the car navigation system in Chinese. As far as I know, the voice navigation in almost all languages are done by women except in Arabic. Women' voices are considered more friendly, more agreeable, and therefore more suitable for the voice navigation. As for the Arabic navigation, the colleagues working in this language told me they had to find a man to do the voice recording. No Arabic man would like to be "led" by a woman when he drives, even in the sense of the navigation system.

Well at that time I did not think much about it, no more than a fact.

Now I spend much time on Proz.com, socializing with other freelance language workers, also Arabic interpreters and translators. Then I start to ask: are women also in a disadvantageous position in this profession? In the same token, I would assume a woman in Arabic has a far worse career chance as an interpreter than a man. What about translation? Do Arabic clients wish to have some projects done only by men? Besides, if an Arabic man lives in America or Europe, can he drive a car with a woman's navigation voice?

Can anyone give me some first-hand information?

Thanks
Bin (woman)

[Edited at 2008-08-02 18:08]


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xxxAWa
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
not first-hand ... Aug 2, 2008

Dear Bin,
I have no first-hand experience but I think that the tradition (I hope my memory serves me right. If it does not, please correct me) that women in Arabian countries only talk to men they are related to (and vice versa) could be seen as a disadvantage, excluding them from some jobs. On the other hand the same custom gives them an advantage when the talk to be interpreted is among women and having male interpreters would not be proper behaviour.


As for the navigation systems in the US or Europe: as far as I've heard the systems come with several voices, male and female. So users can select the one they like best.

Looking forward to other comments on this topic,

Astrid


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 18:56
TOPIC STARTER
Car navigation Aug 2, 2008

Astrid Wanke wrote:

As for the navigation systems in the US or Europe: as far as I've heard the systems come with several voices, male and female. So users can select the one they like best.



I had been involved in the car navigation for almost 10 years. I had never heard a male's voice during that time. Therefore it was quite a surprise to me when colleagues were looking for an Arabic man to do the voice recording.

I saw a very interesting advertisement about the car navigation somewhere in a magazine:

Die Navigationstante ist die einzige Frau, die ich mir was sagen lasse. (Dieter Bohlen lächelnd auf dem Bild).


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Heather Shaw  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:56
Member (2008)
Arabic to English
+ ...
No problems whatsoever Aug 2, 2008

There are many cultural and religious factors that come into play regarding this issue, but in general, translation is a good field for women in Arabic countries. You will find that most of the translation courses in Arab universities are filled with women as it is a career that often allows a great amount of flexibility - it can be done from home, there is no need to mix with men in person (everything can be done on-line for the most part), and the work load is often flexible.

That said, it is true to some extent that women may not get the same interpretation jobs that men do - but it does work both ways as women would be called on to translate for women, and men for men, particularly in more conservative settings.

As far as Arab men driving cars in western countries with female navigation voices... I can't imagine it being an issue. I just wish the woman's voice wouldn't sound so annoyed when I miss the turn and she says, "recalculating".


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Hi Bin Aug 3, 2008

I do appreciate that you want to know more about this issue, so please don't think I'm annoyed by the question. But it does annoy me that there seems to be a very widespread assumption that what applies in one Arab country applies in all. The Arab world stretches from Morocco to Iraq, yet for some reason, the most conservative customs of one country (Saudi Arabia) seem for the rest of the world to be representative of the whole of the Arab world.
In Egypt, as in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, and even in places like the UAE (to name but a few), Arab women's voices are very well heard (in every sense of the word). There are certainly more female interpreters, TV presenters, teachers etc. than there are male. In the airports, announcements are usually in female voices. Telephone messages (of the "Please replace the handset and try again" sort) are in female voices. I could go on and on.
I can't say I've every heard an Arabic language navigation system before, but I can well imagine it to read by a female voice. There may however be a point in the idea that some Arab men may not want to be led by a female voice, esp. when it comes to driving. Although this is a generalisation, it may be worth looking further into this, and checking to what extent that would have to be taken into consideration, esp. if the system is to be marketed in more conservative Arab countries. It would certainly make sense to have two sets of voices available to choose from, one male and one female. I know a lot of English navigation systems do provide that option.

[Edited at 2008-08-03 02:06]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Check this out: Aug 3, 2008

"Mallah" BMW's in-car Navigation System

BMW Group has launched the first in-car GPS road navigation system in the Middle East, starting with the United Arab Emirates. The launch also coincided with the worldwide introduction of a new wide-screen multi-function monitor, available as standard on many BMW models in the region.
[...]
Guidance is communicated audibly, with a pleasant female voice
http://www.portal-me.com/BMW/products/satnav/index.asp?dopopup=

So there


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ahmadwadan.com  Identity Verified
Kuwait
Local time: 00:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Misguidance! Aug 3, 2008

Maybe this conservation, if found, is due to the fact that a female is the best one who can misguide you. Another fact is that females are well-known of being the source of car accidents, directly or indirectly :-;

Or, maybe some Arabic men lose control when they hear a soft female voice

Oh no, do not take above seriously, I am just kidding. Females are our mams, sisters, wives, daughters and we do respect them as men, maybe more. No sexism is intended indeed. I just intended by my input to add a sense of humor here and I do agree with Nesrin.

Kind regards


[Edited at 2008-08-03 07:08]


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sal4trans
Local time: 01:56
Arabic to English
Perceived Freedom vs Real Freedom Aug 3, 2008

First, I am all for freedom for women, men, old, young, white, black.. as human beings first and foremost.

Then, with freedom comes responsibility, and greater freedom means greater responsibility, and greater responsibility warrants greater privileges, all functioning in a system of mutual understanding and cooperation, for the betterment of the whole as well as the unit.

Second, I would just say that some good ideas have been hijacked and their scope restricted, almost resulting in the subversion of the ideologies' original intent, or at least, blurring the real meaning of these ideas in people's minds , and in which they invested much of their hopes and undertaking.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
An Arabic l10n company... Aug 3, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:
Do Arabic clients wish to have some projects done only by men? Besides, if an Arabic man lives in America or Europe, can he drive a car with a woman's navigation voice?


Good question. Interestingly, the largest Arabic l10n company is headed by a woman. I don't think forum rules allow me to post the name here. I might add that most of their clients seem to be multinationals, so I'm not sure what that says about Arabic clients specifically.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
That's right, Samuel Aug 3, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

Good question. Interestingly, the largest Arabic l10n company is headed by a woman. I don't think forum rules allow me to post the name here. I might add that most of their clients seem to be multinationals, so I'm not sure what that says about Arabic clients specifically.


There are thousands of Arab businesswomen (in Arab countries, dealing with Arab clients - male too! - directly, not from home), not to mention female ministers, members of parliament, company directors, who actually give orders to male subordinates.
You can take my word for it

[Edited at 2008-08-03 14:46]


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 22:56
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Don't know about Arabic Aug 3, 2008

... but my car navigation system (in Norwegian) comes with a choice of two voices, one male, one female. And a possibility to download more of both sexes if you don't like either of them.

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Ouadoud  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
I share this sound point of view Aug 4, 2008

Nesrin wrote:

... it does annoy me that there seems to be a very widespread assumption that what applies in one Arab country applies in all. The Arab world stretches from Morocco to Iraq, yet for some reason, the most conservative customs of one country (Saudi Arabia) seem for the rest of the world to be representative of the whole of the Arab world...


This is a very sound and fair analysis of the situation. I fully share it. Quite often unfortunately, problems are not within our countries, but in the minds of people who look at us, visit us, or are interested by our matters...
For this very reason, explanations as the one given by Nesrine should be carved in gold letters

Kindest regards


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