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The Challenges of Arabic Transcription

What makes Arabic transcription so challenging? Like many widely spoken languages, Arabic has numerous dialects, formal and informal registers, and a non-Latin alphabet that often needs to be romanized.

If you’re looking for dependable Arabic transcription services, you need a company that can understands the unique challenges of Arabic. Contact to learn more about our high-quality transcription services.

The best transcription services will understand and be able to deal with the following challenges.

A myriad of dialects

Arabic isn’t a single language. Over thousands of years, the Arabic language has evolved into different dialects as people migrated to new regions. Today, Arabic is spoken in the following countries in the Middle East and North Africa:

  • Algeria

  • Egypt

  • Iraq

  • Kuwait

  • Lebanon

  • Lebanon

  • Libya

  • Malta

  • Mauritania

  • Morocco

  • Oman

  • Palestine

  • Saudi Arabia

  • Sudan

  • Syria

  • Tunisia

  • Yemen

But one unifying language

Most native Arabic speakers also speak a common dialect—Modern Standard Arabic. This formal version of the language is spoken or understood by over 206 million people worldwide and is generally used in the media, sermons, and lectures.

What does this mean for transcription? If your audio or video file is in Modern Standard Arabic, transcriptionists will probably understand the language. However, if your file uses a different dialect, inexperienced transcriptionists may struggle to decipher particular words or phrases.

Arabic script vs. romanization

Based on number of users, Arabic script is the third most widely used writing system in the world—yet most computer keyboards use Latin (i.e., Roman) characters. It’s therefore customary to transliterate Arabic by converting it into the Latin alphabet, a process known as romanization.

There are many systems for romanizing Arabic script. Some native Arabic speakers created a transliteration system called the Arabic Chat Alphabet, or Arabish, to normalize spellings for the internet. However, translators, linguists, professors, anthropologists, and other experts have yet to agree on a formalized system for widespread use.

That’s why spelling in Arabic is so challenging. Many names and words have alternate spellings, so a spelling that’s correct for one speaker will be incorrect for another. This will cause confusion unless a skilled transcriptionist knows the best choice to use.

Transcribing directly into English

Sometimes a company needs an Arabic audio or video file to be both transcribed and translated into English. The fastest, most cost-effective way to do this is to have a transcriptionist listen to the audio and then write down the English translation. To do this, the transcriptionist must, of course, be highly skilled in both languages.

Hire a reliable Arabic transcription service

At, we’ve assembled a team of Arabic transcriptionists who can handle these challenges. We take pride in providing the following services:

  • High-quality transcription services from native speakers

  • Attention to detail and language nuances

  • Correct sentence structure

  • Quick turnarounds

  • Affordable pricing

  • Outputs in different formats to suit your needs

Contact us today to receive an estimate for Arabic transcription services.


Explore transcription services

Flat-rate professional transcription with a social mission

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