I am sure I am not the only Arabic translator who has asked herself why Trados Studio gives us the option of selecting the Arabic country we are translating for. As I scroll down the long list of what Trados Studio considers to be different languages, such as Arabic (Algeria), Arabic (Bahrain), Arabic (Libya)… I am quite bewildered and somewhat peeved by the 10 seconds I waste every time I create a new project with Arabic as the target language. I assume that the common misconception that every Arabic country has its own form of Arabic was the catalyst for this issue in this translation software suite. A different form of Arabic in a translation project, umm… Trados Studio, we need to talk.

I would expect this option from someone who does not have any knowledge in the translation world.

I would also expect to see this option for languages that might actually vary from one country to another. For example, you do not want to publish a European Spanish translation in Mexico, and vice versa. Everyone would be able to tell. British English spelling should not be used when the target language is American English. This I understand.

Some of our translation partners create their own translation memories before they send them to us. For example, they have a client who wants to launch their product in Jordan. Logically, our partner rushes to select “Arabic (Jordan)” in the “Target Languages” field thanks to Trados Studio who was generous enough to offer this option.

The main problem with this approach is that it impoverishes our translation memories and terminology databases. After you carry out the translation in Arabic (Jordan), you can only update the translation memories with the same language codes. This creates an unnecessary division between our translation memories. The entries are all written in Modern Standard Arabic. However, they are divided into mini translation memories because the language codes selected before creating the projects are different. Trados Studio thinks it’s doing you a favor by not letting you mix Arabic (Jordan) with Arabic (Egypt) and Arabic (U.A.E). Little does Trados Studio know the files are translated in the exact same language that has the exact same rules and the exact same speakers!

For example, I did a translation about a toy for kids into Arabic (Saudi Arabia) because our translation partner chose this option. After I was done with the translation, I created a translation memory. Two weeks later, I received the second batch of the project into Arabic (Kuwait)… I found myself creating a second translation memory!

I don’t know about you, but I personally do not see any benefits of having 26 different options for Arabic on the “Target Languages” list (yes, I have just wasted another 10 seconds counting them…). Any professional Arabic translator is very well aware of the fact that the only acceptable form of Arabic in translation is Modern Standard Arabic.

Of course, one possible solution would be to change the language code on the translation files and to import the entries into a master translation memory that has a neutral target language code [such as Arabic (World)]. But why complicate things so much when the answer is so simple?