Voice-over Translation in Arabic

August 3, 2016 |

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

Voice-Over Translation in Arabic photoIt has been a while since we touched upon a topic related to Arabic, but that doesn’t mean it is any less relevant or important. In fact, one could argue that it is just as relevant as before, if not more, given the continuing crisis in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Besides that, however, life does go on, and just like any other region of the world, the Arabic-speaking countries import many different goods and services from around the world.

Before we get into the details of what to expect in terms of voice-over translation, and translation in general, in Arabic, let’s take a moment to refresh our memories. Arabic is similar to Spanish in that it there is a standard dialect of it, but it is hardly ever used for anything besides official and government activities. The dialects of Arabic, however, are better likened to the Romance languages that branched out of Latin, in that some of them are not very mutually intelligible.

While the standard dialect of Arabic, Modern Arabic, is widely understood and used by almost every Arabic-speaking country as an official language, that doesn’t mean that it is the natural dialect that a Moroccan or Saudi person would fall into so easily if speaking to their communities. That is the main issue with voice-over translation in Arabic, that it must be done in a localized and accurate manner for each and every country that it is intended to be used in.

One could just take the source material, translate it into Modern Arabic, find voice talent to record it, and be done with the whole thing, but all that would result in is a lot of laughter and confusion on the receiving end. If you want to truly engage an audience and make them feel like you know them and know their culture and daily lives, why would you speak to them using such official and general language?

Here is another catch, though: besides the spelling used for Modern Arabic, there are no official spellings in Arabic dialects. This means a variety of spellings in the same dialect can be used for the same words. While this won’t be an issue really in terms of the spoken part of a voice-over project, it could be an issue if any on-screen text, in the case of a video, needs to be translated. Besides that, a way around this is to simply translate everything into Modern Arabic first, and then get more specialized translators and localization experts to work with you on the translations into the different dialects.

A good translation agency will be able to handle an Arabic voice-over project from start to finish, not missing a detail. They should have excellent Arabic translators and localization specialists on hand as well as in the appropriate countries that they can work with. The same goes for the voice talent they have to work with. If they don’t have the appropriate connections, it won’t be worth your time and you will end up with bad results. Choose an agency that knows what they are doing, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

For an overview of Alpha Omega Translations’ expertise, visit our audio and video translation service page.


Category: Foreign Language

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