Transliterated brand names

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    I’ve just come across a 2006 University of South Africa MA thesis investigating Saudi fast-food ads. The author, Basem Abbas Al Agha, finds that […] 97% of the respondents believed that the translations are incomprehensible in Arabic. The other 3% stated that they sometimes understand the translations. (p. 92). Even if the sample size is rather small, these are astounding results: basically, he’s saying that the entire target population of an advertising message doesn’t get it. Small wonder that Arabic speakers often gripe about the way the Arabic language has become “infested” (Al Agha’s term; p. 82) with English. Al Agha notes that the preferred “translation” strategy in his corpus of Saudi fast-food ads is transliteration rather than translation. Transliteration is also very much in evidence elsewhere in the Arab World. Consider the following four examples. I took the first two pictures in Abu Dhabi, the third one was taken in Cairo and published by Gulf News, and I took the fourth one – surprise, surprise – in Munich.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
    PublisherLanguage on the move
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2010

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
    • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)


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