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libyan leader muammar gaddafi
libyan leader muammar
muammar gaddafi
many different ways
spoken languages
Do Arabic Names Need Translation Or Transliteration?
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The Arabic language ranks sixth amongst the most spoken languages in the world, with an estimated 264 million native speakers. As the language of the holy book of Islam is widely used all over the Muslim world, the demand for this language is not only important to the Muslim people, but in some cases has additional religious overtones.

There are many Arabic dialects. Classical Arabic, which is the language of the Qur’an, was originally the dialect of Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Another one is an adopted form from Classical Arabic, known as Modern Standard Arabic, which is commonly used in the government or public, such as on the radio, in television, newspapers, mosques, and used as a formal form of conversation between Arabs from different countries. Thus, all Arabic dialects vary; a Lebanese might have difficulty understanding a Somalian, even though they speak the same language.

Learning Arabic takes time, effort, and extensive practice. Hence, transcribing Arabic into the Roman alphabet is fraught with difficulty. Recently, when the news about the killing of the former Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi struck the world, in the corner of my brain, I noticed and wondered why his name is spelled in so many different ways. Hence, I am now a bit confused if which one is correct, whether it’s Gadaffi, Qadaffi, Kadafi, and so on.

Translating Arabic words to English is complicated because both languages use different alphabets, and there are no accurate rules in order to connect the Arabic letters to the Latin letters that are used in the English language. The fact is that, usually when we see Arabic words, especially Arabic names, they are not really a translation but a transliteration. In addition, the same is true about why the Muslim Holy Book is spelled in many ways as well; it doesn’t really matter if it’s Koran, Quran, Quoran or Qur’an, there is no right or wrong way, it’s a matter of choice.

Confusion over the spelling of Arabic names that have been transcribed into the Roman alphabet can also lead to more serious problems. An Arabic name like Hussein Al-Muhammad might have different spelling in English transliteration. Some people may spell this name in different ways such as Al Mohammad, Al- Mohammed or even Muhammad alone.

There are some glottal sounds that have no correlation or equivalence in Roman alphabet. In addition, because of this, there are plenty of studies and research conducted by experts and linguists in order to solve this issue. However, in very obvious cases, some studies did not meet the equivalent ideas and guidelines and thus, some people find it absurd, while others say it useful for people.

Transcribing Arabic names into the English language is a difficult process. Nowadays, people consider using machine translation in order to translate proper Arabic names. In addition, some people believe that emails in Arabic from computers are more accessible now for foreigners who are dealing with the Arab language; there is software available now that automatically translates Arabic into English. However, this still doesn’t mean that machine translation can produce accurate interpretation of the language, especially of Arabic names.


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