HOC Blog

HOC New Translator Guide - Part 3 of 7

This part deals with knowledge as a cornerstone in Arabic localization.


C. Transcreation is (indeed!) all about knowledge:

The most important misconception about translation is not attributing it to knowledge. Knowledge is with no doubt the only guarantee that you will effectively use your talent and techniques to meet the client's expectations, and House of Content's standards. You have to be knowledgeable in the subject matter, and this knowledge we are talking about is not only the general knowledge of the concepts and facts of the particular field, but also having a strong background in the Arabic translation standards and practices in this particular field. Readers should never feel that they know more about the subject matter than the person who transcreated the text they are reading.


House of Content's knowledge tips:

  1. Start by familiarizing yourself with the general information about the subject matter. Wikipedia is an excellent asset in this. Find the Wikipedia article about the subject you will be working on, and skim through it. If Wikipedia is no help, find something else that provides the required information.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the most common vocab and expressions used in this field in your target language. If you are working on a user manual for a car, find similar manuals in your target language and read through them. Do not forget to take notes and start a mini glossary with terms you find are frequently used in this field.
  3. The most important part of this is to note the most common spelling for proper names that you may encounter. Note company’s Arabic names for examples, how they are spelled, and whether or not they have (الـ) in them. For example: The company Remal could be رمال or الرمال, so you need to find its website, or any website that mentions its name in Arabic, and check.
  4. If you face a concept that you do not understand, find someone who is an expert in the subject matter, and ask them to explain the concept to you.
  5. In transcreating proper names, in case you cannot find their official equivalent in your target language, you may need to transliterate them. In this case, make sure you know the correct pronunciation for each and every proper name you will transliterate. For names in languages you are not familiar with, you may use Forvo, or similar online pronunciation dictionaries.
  • Common mistake: Sometimes Arabic translators (transcreators) encounter people’s names that they are not familiar with, especially names of people from the Far East. If you encounter this, and the text does not give you any gender-specific words, please do a quick online check to see if it is a male name or a female name.

In sum, the three pillars of transcreation are: Creativity, Technicality, and Knowledge.

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