The Challenges of Translating Arabic into English

Arabic is one of the world’s most important languages, with speakers of the language spanning multiple countries from Morocco in the extreme northwest of Africa through to Iraq in the Middle East. Arabic-speaking nations vary from relatively poor and undeveloped countries to sophisticated and affluent ones.

In total, about 360 million people speak Arabic, which is about 3.6% of the world’s population, which is on par with other international languages like French.

Arabic is not just the first language of many people in North Africa and the Middle East but is a lingua franca for many tribal people. The language has had a major influence on the languages and even the writing systems of other languages, such as Swahili (a predominantly Bantu language) and Malay/Indonesian (primarily an Austronesian language). 

Translators who translate from Arabic to English and vice versa face significant challenges posed by the nature of both languages.

The challenges of translating Arabic into English

#1 Arabic dialect differences

There are three primary differences in the Arabic dialect. Classical Arabic is used in most of the older Arabic literature, poetry, the Koran, etc. Arabic used in countries where it is an official language (e.g. Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.) is Modern Standard Arabic. There are also several Arabic dialects, which can cause problems in communication even for Arabic speakers themselves. There are about 8 main regional dialects. 

#2 Arabic grammar differences

The main difference in the grammar between Arabic and English is the way sentences are structured. All sentences in English are known as verbal sentences. They have a subject, an object, and a verb. In Arabic, there are four different types of sentences. These include verbal sentences like in English, but there are also nominal sentences with no verb, as well as functional and non-functional sentences. Nominal sentences are common in Arabic and only need a topic and a comment without using a verb.

#3 Arabic alphabet and letter differences

Arabic has 28 letters in its alphabet, which isn’t too different from the Latin alphabet used in English (26 letters). However, not all Arabic letters have a Latin equivalent, and vice versa.

#4 Difficult writing format

Anyone who has seen any Arabic written down will notice straight away that it is a script that is unique to that language. Obviously, Arabic-to-English translators must be proficient in both spoken and written languages. Arabic letters are not in any way similar to Latin letters used in English. On the other hand, they are easier for the English speaker to learn and write than some other important world languages like Japanese, Korean and Chinese that use characters.

Arabic is written from right to left, rather than left to right as in English. It is written one line at a time from the top to the bottom, just like English, however.

#5 Gender references 

Like many languages, Arabic is gender sensitive. In English, nouns, adjectives, and verbs aren’t changed or even designated as belonging to a particular category apart from obvious male and female entities. Pronouns are gender sensitive in English, but again only when it is obvious whether something is male or female. 

Unfortunately for English speakers, many languages assign different categories to their nouns and in many of these languages, prefixes or suffixes are added to adjectives and verbs to fit the designation of the category of the noun. Typically there are male and female categories, which is the Arabic situation. In many other languages, there are three: male, female and neuter, while Kiswahili surpasses all other languages with 8 different noun categories, with adjectives, pronouns, and verbs adjusted for each category. That makes using and learning Arabic an easier task in comparison!

While male nouns in Arabic typically don’t have any specific ending or suffix, female ones do. They end in the Arabic letter, ة, –a, or –ah (the Latinised equivalent).

There are many variations and irregularities in assigning gender in Arabic to keep Arabic English translators on their toes!


Arabic is one of the world’s most important languages and is vital for businesses and government agencies that need to communicate with Arabic-speaking business associates, clients, and colleagues. Because Arabic is a challenging language for English speakers (and vice versa), because of differences in the writing system, gender assignation, and the existence of dialects, it is important to choose a professional Arabic-to-English translator whenever documents need to be translated from one language to the other.

Everything you Need to Know About the NAATI CCL Test

What is the NAATI CCL test?

The NAATI CCL test is not in itself related to the accreditation system for professional translators and interpreters that NAATI is primarily designed for. CCL stands for ‘credentialed community language.’ It is a test that can help would be migrants gain 5 points for their point-based visa applications. NAATI itself is not an immigration authority and cannot advise applicants on immigration policy and how to gain a visa. It merely sets and administers the CCL test. If the test is passed, then this gives the visa applicant 5 extra points to add to other points they may have from other sources.

Test format

The NAATI CCL test is currently only an online test. It can be accessed anywhere where the person wishing to take the test has a decent internet signal. This is probably the most important aspect of prior preparation apart from understanding how the test is administered and what you need to do in advance to help you pass the test. There are resources and plenty of information available on the relevant section of NAATI’s website.

The test consists of two dialogues, consisting of a total of about 300 words. Each dialogue is in two languages: one is in English; the other is in the language of your choice. There are currently 53 different languages available. Each of the two dialogues is broken down into segments of 35 words each and consists of one person speaking in English to the other who responds in the LOTE (language other than English). The test consists of you being able to describe or explain what each person is trying to say to a reasonable standard. Examiners are appointed to listen to your responses and assess whether your ability to explain what the English segment is all about in your chosen language as well as what the LOTE sections are all about in English.

Test time

The test takes 20 minutes to complete, but you are given a further 15 minutes of preparation before the dialogues start. The actual time that tests are available is based on ACT (Canberra) time, which is Australian Eastern Standard time.

Test date

Tests can be accessed from Monday to Friday each week, apart from Australian public holidays.

Who can take the NAATI CCL test?

The NAATI CCL test is designed to suit visa applicants who are applying for one of the visa categories given below. Failure of the test will not affect your visa application. It simply means that you don’t qualify for the extra 5 points.

NAATI CCL validity

As has been explained above, the CCL test is primarily for those visa applicants who can take advantage of their language proficiency to add 5 points to what they already have when applying for various visas, such as the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190), and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489). NAATI advises applicants for any of these visa subclasses to check with the Department of Home Affairs that the CCL test is still a valid way of adding points as immigration policy can change from time to time.

NAATI CCL test languages

There are 53 NAATI CCL test languages. These are

Arabic            Hungarian       Punjabi

Assyrian       Indonesian       Romanian

Bangle           Italian                 Russian

Bosnian        Japanese             Serbian

Bulgarian     Kannada             Sinhalese

Burmese       Khmer                 Somali

Cantonese    Korean               Spanish

Croatian        Lao                       Swahili

Czech            Macedonian       Tamil

Dari              Malay                     Telugu

Dutch           Malayalam          Thai

Filipino        Mandarin           Tigrinya

Finnish        Marathi               Turkish

French          Nepali                  Urdu

German        Odia                     Vietnamese

Greek             Pashto

Gujarati        Persian

Hazaragi       Polish

Hindi              Portuguese


Although the CCL test is nothing to do with becoming an accredited translator or interpreter in Australia, mention must be made of the importance of NAATI when seeking a professional translator or interpreter. Visa applicants often resort to using a translator to translate their personal documents accurately and there is a requirement to use a NAATI-accredited translator for all visa-related document translations in Australia.


Challenges Faced by a Chinese Translator When Translating From English to Chinese or Chinese to English

The official language of China is Mandarin, which is also called “Putonghua”. More than 70 percent of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin, but there are other major dialects that are used in China.

Challenges faced by Chinese translators when translating from English to Chinese or Chinese to English.

  • Use of characters instead of letters

Even though there are different types of Chinese the Chinese text use exactly the same written characters. This is similar to languages like Korean and Japanese. Chinese does not have an alphabet that is like English. However, China has taken on a phonetic system that uses Latin letters, which helps children to learn to speak and write but it is not often used. Latin languages form words using 26 letters but the Chinese language uses literally thousands of characters to form words and phrases. All characters take up one syllable. 

Two main styles are used for writing these Chinese characters which are Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Simplified Chinese is the most modern and started to be used in the 1950s and 1960s. The key differences between Simplified Chinese are the number of characters and the use of a simpler style. Western punctuation is used with Simplified Chinese.

  • Understanding sentence structures

When in the process of learning a new language you need to gain a good knowledge of sentence structure. Chinese word order is not much different from the English language word order. The most basic word order in Chinese is subject and then verb. Simple sentences can be formed with only two words.

  • Different dialects

These are Xiang (Hunanese), Yue (Cantonese), Gan dialect, Min dialect, Wu dialect, and Hakka or Kejia dialect

  • Complex grammar system

Chinese grammar is quite straightforward and doesn’t have plurals or tenses. Chinese nouns don’t have plurals, and verbs do not have any changes in voice, tenses, and the subjective. Chinese words only use one unique form. Chinese often puts adverbials that indicate place, time, and way in front of a sentence, while English normally puts these at the back of the sentence.

  • Tones

Pronunciation is essential to speaking Chinese. Four main tones will totally alter word meaning based on how it is spoken:



Sounds Like-A constant, a high pitch that is similar to the way an English speaker pronounces an exclamation of surprise



Sounds Like-An upward, rising inflection, similar to the way an English speaker ends sentences with a question.



Sounds Like- A tone that is low and dips down as it is spoken. It is similar to the way an English speaker ends sentences with a period.



Sounds Like-A hissing, low sound like a whisper.

The use of tones significantly changes the meanings of Chinese words and is as difficult to learn as are agreements, tenses, or the word order of a grammatical structure of a Latin language.

What to look for in a Chinese translator 

If you would like your business to enter the Chinese market, you should request the best translator you can find. This means an experienced language translator who has ties with a reputable and certified translation agency and is able to create a professional Chinese translation.  Asking for previous client testimonials from the language translator is a good way to learn about the qualities of the Chinese translator and their ability to perform English to Chinese and Chinese to English translations.

Hire a professional Chinese translator to do your Chinese to English translations and English to Chinese translations and you will get the accurate translations you require for the interactions you wish to have in China.

Great Ideas to Start Your New Business Year

If you were glad 2021 was over and are wondering just how 2022 is going to pan out for you and your business, it is worth taking a positive approach and prioritizing your new year’s resolutions. Here are some ideas to mull over while you are re-jigging your business plans for this year.

Great Ideas to Start Your New Business Year

Continue reading “Great Ideas to Start Your New Business Year”

How a Tourism Translation Service Helps to Improve the Travel Experience


Multilingual communication makes up one of the most important elements of both tourism and travel. To enable travelers to enjoy their overseas travel experiences a tourism translation provided by tourism translation services that help travelers understand their destinations is a necessary component of the tourism experience. Fortunately, over the years it is possible to get a professional tourism translation that accurately describes tourist activities so that the tourist can choose the activities that best suits their interests. A professional tourism translation is provided on menus in restaurants overseas so that a tourist may choose what suits his or her taste. This ensures there is no confusion for the tourists and they can get on with their holiday with fewer delays.

Professional tourism translation interactions

Translation services provide help in all sorts of areas of travel including:

  • translations of the content of air travel;
  • translations for personal safety;
  • translations for hotel help;
  • professional translations for a travel agency;
  • language interpreters for guided tours.

Translations of the content of airline travel

Translations of the content for airline travel provide travelers with the peace and quiet they need when they board an airline. Because there are so many travelers speaking so many different languages many airlines use the service of a professional translation company so that key information can be translated into many languages. Many languages are used when selling tickets, providing terms of service, guiding passengers within the airport terminal, and keeping travelers informed.

Even while the airplane is flying to a new destination, the crew may speak several languages but at least the languages of the departing and arrival airports. Airplane and safety instructions well as information about inflight entertainment, the airline’s inflight magazine, and the menu of the flight which is found in the front of aircraft seats are often translated into at least two languages.

Translations for personal safety

It is important that passengers know at least the safety routines on a flight otherwise they will not know what to do if an emergency arises. Also, once on the ground at the start of a well-earned vacation if tourist operators or local authorities provide translations of safety information such as when it is not safe to swim at a beach or if there are marine stingers, sharks, or snakes in the area this helps the traveler enjoy the holiday even more. Even phone numbers and notices explaining what to do in an emergency translated into different languages offer the peace of mind travelers often seek when away from home.

If somebody requires medical assistance, interpreters and translators can offer their services so that anyone who is sick or has been injured can access the help required without any delay.

Translations for hotel help

These translations make visitors feel happy and comfortable whether they are staying in a 5-star resort or a backpacker’s hostel. The hospitality industry offers tourists a secure place to enjoy their vacations in a language they understand. They provide maps, directions, descriptions of activities, and menus in the tourist’s preferred languages. When hotels, motels, and B&Bs translate visitors’ information it makes the travelers’ life much easier.

Professional translations for a travel agency

Professional translations for a travel agency help customers get to their destinations. When language barriers exist getting a professional translation service to translate travelers’ itineraries means they get there far more quickly and safely.

Language interpreters for guided tours

If a large group speaking the same language joins the same tour it enhances their experiences if there are interpreters accompanying the tours. The interpreter can explain the significance of an ancient building, monuments, and well-known landmarks in a language the tour group understands. Without the help of a professional interpreter, the tour group may miss out on interesting information.

Gaining the most from a trip with help from a tourism translation service

When a tourist provider offers tourist information in many languages, travelers may appreciate what they are seeing while discovering access to local spots that best fits their interests and needs. Translations into the travelers’ native languages, along with good customer service can make all the difference when deciding to participate in activities. You can more easily choose the most suitable activities which you are happy to do and choose a meal when you know the contents.

Translation companies can assist hotels, motels, and resorts to give their holidaymakers the perfect feeling that they are secure and content while enjoying the holiday feeling. Nothing gets lost in the translations when the tourist providers use the best translation services. There is nothing worse than losing out on a well-earned vacation when language barriers exist.

Translations for tourism make communication accurate and accessible and opens the traveler to new experiences which help to boost a country’s tourism business.