Register variation in Arabic translations of the WPAI: Balancing localization standards and Arabic language norms
AuthorKosoff, Zoe M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractHow does localized translation relate to the Arabic language? According to the Localization Industry Standards Association, localization “involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold,” (Esselink 2000a, p. 3). In monoglossic situations, localized translation involves producing translations that reflect regional language variation. Localizing Arabic translations presents a greater challenge because the Arabic language is characterized by both register variation and regional variation (Badawi 1973/2012; Bassiouney 2009; Ferguson 1959/1972). Existing literature addresses both localized translation and Arabic translation, but does not address localized Arabic translation specifically. Within the field of outcomes research, a public health subfield that studies patient populations health and well-being, prior studies that analyze Arabic translations of outcomes research documentation focus solely on the validity of universal, not localized translations. Studies in other specialized fields such as law also fail to include analysis of localized Arabic translation. This study analyzes register and regional variation in one universal and twenty-seven localized Arabic translations of the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire (WPAI), a clinical outcome assessment that is frequently localized for use in internationally sited clinical trials (Margaret Reilly Associates 2013). To determine the degree to which the Arabic WPAIs are localized, twenty-one variables including linguistic lexical items, morphological forms, and syntactic structures were coded as either salient Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or localized. Localized variables include salient Levantine Arabic (LA), Gulf Arabic (GA), and Egyptian Arabic (EA) features, shared MSA/LA/GA/EA variables and simplified variables. Then residual analysis of the expected and observed frequencies of each variable determined the overall degree of localization for each variable. Results indicate that salient MSA variables and localized variables are used in all twenty-eight WPAIs while localized salient LA, GA, and EA variables are completely absent. Although the inconsistent use of localized shared and simplified variables throughout the one universal and twenty-seven L-, G-, and E-WPAIs indicates that localization standards are met inconsistently, all twenty-eight WPAIs are successful within a functionalist framework because the use of salient MSA, shared, and simplified variables ensures that the text is accessible to a lay audience, which is the ultimate function of the target text (TT). This study sheds light on the inherent challenges of localized Arabic translation, which is caught between localization standards and Arabic language norms. Motivations for using salient MSA, shared, and simplified variables are discussed and implications of this study include improving methods for producing localized Arabic translations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern & North African Studies