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Translation, Arabization and Advertising Copywriting*.
Thread poster: Jalil Aljuboory

Jalil Aljuboory
Canada
Local time: 07:37
English to Arabic
+ ...
Sep 25, 2007

Abduljalil Al-Juboory
Arabic Creative Copywriter
NAATI Accredited Translator
www.ajacmc.com
25 September 2007
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Translation and Arabization are sometimes used as synonyms when one refers to content from any language being interpreted to the Arabic language. Yet, the two are quite different from each other.

In translation, we transfer an idea from a culture into another one via the language, not from a language into another one, because the language is a medium for this transference. Throughout this process, the translator has the choice to be faithful to the source alone or to also factor in the mindset and culture of the target audience. It is a choice between translate literally from the original’s author’s point of view alone or interpreting and writing an intended message from the target reader’s point of view.

Translation has played a crucial role in the Arabic culture & heritage. As far back as 1300’s, Caliphs would give a book’s weight in gold to people who translated a foreign book into Arabic. They believed in communication between nations and cultures.

Arabization is the process that localises foreign text or a term and reshapes it to match the Arabic mentality. The original elements of the Arabic language are used rather than literal translations, like hundreds of English terms that work as Arabic words and thousands of Arabic words that work within the English language.

Sometimes, one can find a complete expression or a sentence that works for the same meaning in the target language like the English term ‘checkmate’ in the game of chess, which traces its root to the Arabic ‘shah mat’, and so many more.

Those of us in the business of communications, advertising and media – like editors and advertising copywriters – have a great responsibility as well as enormous opportunities as the world gets connected better and brands cut across global frontiers as those charged with the task of interpreting and Arabizing content for an Arabic target audience.

Our main responsibility is to promote our product and sell it, in a manner that does not affect others negatively. We have to respect our client and his brands, do all the best to promote his product effectively and give him effective and culturally sound advice. At the same time we have to respect the consumer. We should give true and accurate information about the products that we are trying to sell.

We work hard to get the client’s satisfaction, but I think we should aim to win the consumer’s satisfaction too with accurate information about products. Otherwise we risk losing the consumer, and subsequently, the client for whom we create Arabic content.

Another responsibility is to use the language properly. Arabic language is highly meaning-sensitive. If someone tries to add his own touch without a comprehensive knowledge of the nuances of the langauge, he may find a different result or a completely wrong result. Weak Arabic copy will reflect on the perception of the quality of the brand that is using it, from a consumer’s point of view.

Today, the opportunities are great for Arabs who have a passion for communication and media, those who adapt content for Arabs. We work for our own local market, targeting consumers using our own language and culture. It’s an easy thing for us to do.

While the Arabic language is not that easy master, it comes naturally to those of us for whom it is the mother language. It’s harder for non-Arabs to master the Arabic content market. It makes more sense for Arab writers to make dedicated efforts from being just literal translators to copywriters. We need to enhance our skills towards creative copywriting.

Also, we have certain challenges that require hard work. For example, the market is moving from a small and local to large and global. Its demands are also changing.

Many Middle Eastern companies, specially advertising agencies, are managed by non-Arabs. Sometimes, this results in a management that might not be in tune with the way Arabs perceive their communication efforts and creative campaigns. An example would be an ad agency creating a Ramadan greeting for a shoe brand wherein the Ramadan crescent is shown as a shining arc on a shoe. This is an instance of a completely inappropriate message for the target audience that has been created and passed by a management that does not understand Arabs.

Currently, there is an evident gap between Arabic creative copywriters and their clients, even their own managers. There are agencies in the Middle East that specifically seek non-Arab applicants for creative writing positions. Most often, the Arabic writer’s role is perceived as one for translating content that has been written by writers in other languages. In such a system, the result will not be as strong as in a situation where Arabic writers generate content based on their original thoughts rather a translation.

Arabic copywriters sometimes do not even get a chance to propose original concepts or content. Agency briefings often include English writers but not their Arabic counterparts, assuming the concepts will be created in English and then translated or Arabized. When Arab writers propose an original idea or a theme derived from their own culture and community, it is sometimes not understood or appreciated by decision makers not familiar with the local mores and metaphors.

I think writers and translators should work day and night to show our culture’s richness and stand up for our ideas. I personally tried many times to do that. The first time I was asked to find another job. The second time… “No comments”. I did not give up and I will not with commitment. While I write and share my thoughts as an Arabic writer, I am sure writers from around the world believe just like me that ideas and ads for any people should be deeply grounded in the realities, language and culture of that market.

I think all communicators should join hands together regardless of the language, culture, color and mentality and be real creative partners in a world without frontiers.


* Also Posted on www.ajacmc.com, and
https://www.xing.com/app/forum?op=showarticles&id=5777834&articleid=5777834


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:07
English to German
+ ...
Beautiful statement! Sep 25, 2007

I agree with you in all respects. Thank you!

I BTW love this part:

"As far back as 1300’s, Caliphs would give a book’s weight in gold to people who translated a foreign book into Arabic."

That's what we got from paperless offices...

Best regards,

Nicole


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Salam Alrawi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:07
English to Arabic
+ ...
Thank you brother Sep 26, 2007

Well. that was really a nice article, and I totally agree with you and thank you very much for the explanation,

Well, I got a job few months ago from a mobile company based in Netherland, it was a mobile game, the client wanted me to translate the sentences of the game into arabic and I had to explain to him that those sentences wouldn't be accept in arabic culture, anyway after several e-mails of explanations the client agreed with me and I had to delete all the sentences and create new ones for the game to fit the arabic culture,

It is really hard for a non native arabic to do the same job if he had hard time to understand the arabic culture and live between them even if he\she had a really good arabic language talent,
The native arabic can see things different and can know how to deal with the translation (into arabic) more than anybody else,

Thank you again brother for bringing this up,
Best regards,
Salam Al-Rawi


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Mariam Osmann
Egypt
Local time: 12:07
English to Arabic
+ ...
Strong and powerful article Abduljalil Sep 26, 2007

Our main responsibility is to promote our product and sell it, in a manner that does not affect others negatively. We have to respect our client and his brands, do all the best to promote his product effectively and give him effective and culturally sound advice. At the same time we have to respect the consumer. We should give true and accurate information about the products that we are trying to sell.


yes yes yes and never depend on the fact that the direct client sometimes doesn't understand the target language OR a not a linguistics specialist.

Do not translate client satisfaction by being well paid,
Go a little bit farther, and
ALWAYS FOCUS ON END USERS OF YOUR PRODUCTS.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great article, but... Sep 26, 2007

And I agree with you completely. But I'm sure you are aware that the only thing that can change those mentalities you mention is the bottom line.

When they see that your way of doing things produces $$$, then maybe they'll get the picture.


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Jalil Aljuboory
Canada
Local time: 07:37
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Knowledge Deserves! Sep 26, 2007

Thanks Nicole,

Knowledge deserves to be evaluated by gold and I believe translation of knowledge is the same.

Regards.

A.Jalil


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Jalil Aljuboory
Canada
Local time: 07:37
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Faithfull to the client Sep 26, 2007

Thanks MAllaqui,

My next paragraph is saying that also,

"We work hard to get the client’s satisfaction, but I think we should aim to win the consumer’s satisfaction too .................."

If we cheat someone once, he would never buy anything from us later. I do believe that.

Abduljalil


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Jalil Aljuboory
Canada
Local time: 07:37
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
High Quality Products Produces Money also Sep 26, 2007

Thanks Henry,

If our product is a high quality, we can ask for more money, but if it is not, for sure we'll look for the cheapest services to match what we are selling.

Give me the quality that promote my product effectively and take your $$$.

Thanks for this free advise.

Abduljalil


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Jalil Aljuboory
Canada
Local time: 07:37
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The translator sometimes should be an advisor Sep 26, 2007

Salam Salam Al-Rawi,

I agree with you, we should give our client the right & sound advise in the sensitive issues, not only his translated copy. We have to clarify restrictions, taboos or even the strength points that we can take in consideration.

Our aim is to connect & reduce the gaps between cultures by using our linguistic skills and by using the Word, not any other thing. Am I right Salam.

Keep in touch.

Abduljalil Al-Juboory


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