My Translation Philosophy

I’ve been known to find, translate, and subtitle videos pertaining to the Arab Spring, especially those that raise awareness, and bring a personal message from the Arab world to non-Arabic speakers. Anyone who knows Arabic will quickly notice that I do not give a literal translation, and I’m writing this article to explain why.

I aim for a translation so refined that it makes it sound like the message was originally written in English and for an English-speaking audience. I think anyone who has seen a badly subbed or badly translated Arabic clip knows that I’m talking about. My emphasis is not going to be on accuracy or precision of translation, because I don’t care much for that. What I care about is the audience.

I will not stick to every word of the script, stressing precise but innocuous word options, metaphorically holding a thesaurus to whack the audience on the head with. I’ll translate for the satisfaction of the audience, not for the integrity of the original script. I hope you keep that in mind when I occasionally take some license with words or sentences.


To judge my translation, ask: “Does this sound good and natural to the audience, while bringing the message to them?” Do not ask: “Does this correspond to the script word for word?”


Watch some of the videos I translated on my Youtube channel, and help spread awareness by sharing or tweeting them.