Localising Into Right-To-Left Languages

by | Jul 7, 2021 | Translation & Localisation

Directions of a Language

The process of localisation is per se a difficult task; what happens when the target language is a right to left language?

Talking about “orientations” of a language, there are two main different directions:

Right-to-left (RTL), for example Arabic and Hebrew

Top-to-bottom (and RTL), for example Chinese and Japanese

Among the RTL languages we usually focus on Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Urdu. This happens simply because these languages count a very high number of speakers.

Arabic, for instance, counts 1.7 billion speakers. Arabic speakers are present across all continents and are mostly present in the Middle East and North Africa. Choosing to localise your content for the Arabic speaking community will allow you to reach a great number of customers and to be present in multiple countries. Even though each Arabic speaking country would have its own particularities, it is a good step to start!

Click here to find out more RTL languages.

What Should we Consider When Localising RTL Languages?

1.  All RTL languages are bidirectional, BIDI. Numbers, for example, are written left-to-right. Numerical symbols are used as in English, coming after the number. Also, you can find some sentences left in English in the middle of a text, especially in marketing or advertising.  For this reason, it is important that the development platforms and components are adequate to support Unicode and RTL environment.

2.  Mirroring (flipping horizontally) the layout. When localising to an RTL language the professional in charge needs to mirror the entire layout of a website or printed publications following the RTL languages. This includes mirroring components such as menu bars, images and text alignment .

3.  Testing becomes extra important – having a native speaker not only check the content but also the usability of the content container will ensure that not only the translation is correct but also that the usability of the platform is appropriate and easy for RTL native speakers.

For this process, relying on professionals becomes essential. Having your website, app or software localised properly into RTL languages not only will enhance your company’s credibility and your brand’s visibility, but it will also allow you to reach new countries and new customers, ultimately leading to a new chance of growth for your business. What are you waiting for? Find out how we can help!

Let us know if you have questions about any of the discussed content topics.