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The Importance of English-Arabic Translation

This article is devoted to the English Arabic translation; it will lay the light on the definition of translation, the importance of English Arabic translation, the difficulty idioms impose to translators, the qualities of a good translator and the necessity for translation in general.

Translation in Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed’s words is: “the action or process of delivering from one language into another. It is the expression or rendering of sense of words, sentences, and passages etc from one language into another.” Ulm-ul-Qur’an, Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed, I.A.S.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines translation as the rendering of a text into another language.

Katharine Barnwell (1986, p. 8).defines it as follows: Translation is re-telling, as exactly as possible, Translate to English the meaning of the original message in a way that is natural in the language into which the translation is being made.

Translation is much more than the interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language and the production of a new, equivalent text in another language , or the substitution of the words of one language with the words of another language, or the rendering of meaning of a text or whatsoever in one language into another, it is the bridge of appreciation and understanding among people of different cultural groups , it is the means of communication among different groups of people, the means of cultural exchange, the means of preserving cultural heritage of any nation, the means of forming ties and friendships among different groups of people, and the means of understanding and peace.

Human beings are after all not living alone and, every human being has the need and desire to know about one another, man tries to learn what other people are doing, how they are living, and how they have lived. We would like to know, apart from our different ethnicity, color, language, and culture, whether we share the same understanding of love, passion, sorrow, aspiration, sympathy, jealousy and many other respects of human nature. So as long as the desire to exists, translation will be the only bridge across which our aims are reached and our desire realized.
In the general sense, the goal of translation is to build bridges among different groups of people, but the goal of translation in the theoretical sense is to establish a relationship of equivalence between the source and the target language; it should ensure that both texts communicate the same message.

There has been debate as to whether translation is an art, a science, or a Skill. I think Translation is a combination of all of them. It is a science in the sense that it needs complete knowledge of the structure, grammar, semantics, and syntax and in general the make-up of the two languages concerned. It is an art since it requires artistic talent to reconstruct the original text in the form of a product that is presentable to the reader who is not supposed to be familiar with the original. It is also a skill, because it requires attention to detail the meaning and a thorough understanding of the relationship between syntax and semantics, coupled with extensive cultural background and the ability to provide the translation of something that has no equal in the target language.

Also being a human skill, it enables human beings to exchange ideas and thoughts regardless of the different languages they use. Man is endowed with the ability to convey his feelings and experience to others through language. For this process of communication man acquired both spoken language and the written language, but when human beings spread over the earth, their languages differed and they needed a means through which they can communicate and interact with each others. Thus necessity for translation to convey one’s feelings and experiences into the other language was felt.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, why is translation between English and Arabic important? Both Arabic and English are of the world great languages, in the book ‘The Spread of English, on page 77 the writer says: “the great languages of today are languages of empire, past and present. Only two, Mandarin Chinese and Russian, continue as languages of administration within single, ethno linguistically diverse states. The others -Arabic, English, French, and Spanish-are imperial legacies, having survived the disintegration of the empires that fostered them.”

Arabic language is one of the great world languages. there have been great languages of great empires that did not survive as a great language , like Turkish for instance, when we compare Turkish with Arabic, we find out that Arabic survived the disintegration of the Arab Islamic empire and it continues to be one of the great languages of the world till today, while the Turkish language which was the language of administration and authority in the middle east , Balkans, and different parts of the world that was under the Ottoman rule for a thousand years ,but Turkish in the words of Fishman on page 77 in the book ‘The Spread of English” ‘flowed back to Anatolia with the collapse of the ottoman empire’. But these words are not 100% accurate because Turkish is spoken all over Turkey and in Northern Cyprus, not only in Anatolia which is only a part of Turkey. Also Turkish minorities in the former Soviet Union republics, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, and Romania use Turkish as their mother tongue. Moreover the languages of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, are all branches of the Turkic language family. Yet, no denying that Turkish language lost a lot of its importance after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Returning to Arabic, it is one of the six official languages adopted in The United Nations. Arabic is the language of a rich culture and civilization dating back many centuries; it was the language of Muhammad, the Messenger and Prophet of Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God), and it is the language of the Holy Qura’an. It has produced great figures such as Averroes(Ibn-Roshd), the medieval Aristotelian philosopher; Ibn Khaldun, the first social historian; and Khalil Jibran. Between the eighth and the fifteenth centuries, the volume of literary, scholarly and scientific book production in Arabic and the level of urban literacy among readers of Arabic were the highest the world had ever known to that time. Islamic artists have used Arabic script as their principal art form for centuries; the beauty of their work will be revealed to anyone through the study of Arabic. Arabic is a member of the Semitic group of languages, closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, the language the Christ spoke. Moreover, Arabic is widely spoken; total speakers of Arabic exceed 350 million.

According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, Arabic was also a major vehicle of culture, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy during the middle ages, that is why many European languages have also borrowed numerous words from it.

Pamela J.Farris says in her book Language arts on page 99
“English has borrowed from Arabic algebra, candy, lemon, orange, sugar, and magazine.”

Not only these words English borrowed from Arabic, but there are hundreds of other words borrowed from Arabic, there are some hundreds of the words English borrowed from Arabic in Al Mawrid English-Arabic dictionary, such as typhoon which means in Arabic 7HA’F , Spinach 3(‘F. , and sesame which means in Arabic 3E3E.

So Arabic being one of the world great languages makes translation from and into that language very important, especially English Arabic translation.

No doubt that English is a world language; nowadays it is the language of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy, and tourism. It is listed as the official or co-official language of numerous countries .As well as Arabic, it is one of the six official languages in the United Nations

Consequently, the knowledge of the English language is one of the most important tools in achieving scientific and technological knowledge; moreover it is a tool of communication between countries, different cultural groups, various companies and organizations, communities and friends.

Translation is the tool to make use of the new technology and science. Science knowledge coupled with multiple languages and cultures are increasingly important in an expanding global economy and world welfare. It is clear that Britain and the USA are the forefront of new ideas in science and technology. USA has pioneered in all fields of technology and science; accomplishments of Britain and US technology are in English, so it is very essential to know English to make use of such technology and science.

Also Political relationships, wars, and conflicts make translation so important to have access to what is going on in different parts of the world, especially Arabic English translation, as English is the language of the big powers of the world, and the Arab region is the theatre, where vital events take place at present.

No denying that English is the cornerstone of the world media, many important news sources are in English, on page 34 of the book The Spread of English the writer says: “English newspapers in non English mother-tongue countries are another indication of the world wide status of English”.

If one knows English, one can read the news and points of views of several writers around the globe, by doing so one can expand his knowledge, and get a broader outlook on the surroundings, and to look at issues with a broader perspective. In my opinion, knowing any language is an international passport specifically English.

English is also the language of communication, with the spread of internet, English appeared to be the language of communication, hundreds of millions of different races communicate with each others via the internet in English, thus English helps to strengthen ties, and make friends among different cultural groups of people on different spots of our planet.

So being the language of science technology and communication, in the age of the internet, English spread so widely, there has never been a language so widely spread in so short a time as English.

As mentioned above, both Arabic and English are great world languages, so translation between this pair of languages is important and essential because of the many reasons mentioned previously.

Translation has been and continues to be the means of cultural and knowledge exchange among people throughout history, and the means of preserving cultural heritage.

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