Rescribe: Arabic Translation Notes

Rescribe Logo



Arabic is a Semitic language spoken by approximately 220 million people worldwide, placing it among the world's top ten languages. With the rise of Islam as a dominant religion after 622 AD, Arabic became the most widespread of the living Semitic languages. The earliest written inscriptions in Arabic are found in the Arabian Peninsula and date from the early 4th century AD. Today, Arabic is a unifying bond among Arabs, and it is the liturgical language of Muslims in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

There are two basic forms of Arabic: Classical Arabic and Colloquial Arabic.

  • Classical Arabic—essentially the language of the Qur'an (Koran), the sacred book of Islam.
  • Colloquial Arabic—includes numerous spoken dialects. The chief dialect groups are those of Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa. Some of these dialects are mutually incomprehensible.

The influence of Classical Arabic on the colloquial dialects has increased in recent years because of the spread of literacy.

Writing system

The Arabic script derives from Aramaic. A modified Arabic script has been used to record such diverse languages as Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, Malay, some west African languages, such as Hausa, and, at one time, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Xhosa. The alphabet consists of 28 letters and is written from right to left.

There is a strong history of decorative calligraphy in Arabic: here is an example of such calligraphy.

Arabic translation sample


Picking a target audience

Though Classical Arabic is indeed the standard written language of most Arabic countries, regional variations are common. Please tell us the Arabic-speaking country or community for which your translation is intended.

Arabic can be divided geographically into 4 subgroups:

  • Western Arabic—Includes the region of North Africa referred to as the "Maghrib": Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  • Eastern Arabic—Includes the Arabic dialects spoken in North Africa (Egypt, Somalia, and Sudan), parts of the Middle East (the Arabian peninsula, Iraq, and parts of Syria), as well as Arabic-speaking countries in Asia.
  • North Arabian Colloquial or Gulf Arabic—Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
  • Northwest Arabian Colloquial or Levantine Arabic—Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Within the broad geographic classifications, the daily speech of urban, rural, and nomadic speakers is also distinctively different.

Arabic on the Web

It is not simple to generate Arabic HTML that will be readily visible to all browsers. If you want to test whether your browser can view Arabic HTML that uses the standard ISO 8859-6 encoding please click here. If your browser does not display the text correctly or if you are interested in the various encoding schemes there is much useful information here. If you need to look at an Arabic web page and all else fails, please try this conversion technique. More information about Arabic language issues can be found here.

If you want to display some Arabic text on a predominantly English site you might consider putting the Arabic text into PDF format.

Back to language list

Translations in Farsi, Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, Dutch, French, German and many other languages
Copyright Rescribe 2001