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What Does an Arabic Linguist Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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A career as an Arabic linguist primarily revolves around translating Arabic into another language or vice versa. Some things a person might translate are documents, literature, audio and video. Employment in this field can lead to a person working anywhere from a university to a government agency. While not always necessary, a bachelor's degree in Arabic increases one's odds of obtaining a position as an Arabic linguist. Typical responsibilities of this job include translating written text, translating audio and video, providing interpretation, teaching Arabic and working with the military.

One of the primary duties of an Arabic linguist is translating written text. This could include translating things like books and manuscripts. In a university setting, this would be for academic purposes. Otherwise, in a government agency setting, this might be for intelligence or anti-terrorist purposes. Performing this task effectively is crucial, so an individual needs to be fluent in Arabic and able to successfully translate each word.

Along with this, an Arabic linguist might be required to translate audio and video. In most cases, he will listen to audio or watch a video and write down what is being said. He might also need to explain what type of tone the speaker is using and which emotions are being conveyed. Sometimes he will translate Arabic into another language, and sometimes it will be from another language into Arabic. Consequently, an Arabic linguist needs to be fluent in both languages.

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Another aspect of this job is providing interpretation. For this practice, he will listen to what an Arabic speaker is saying and provide a real-time translation so that a non-Arabic speaker can understand. This is often necessary when a foreigner visits an Arabic speaking country. Being effective at this requires a person with excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to make connections between different cultures.

In the case of an Arabic linguist working at a university, it's his duty to teach Arabic and give lectures. The specifics of this will vary depending upon the curriculum, but generally involve instructing students on linguistics, giving tests and evaluating student performance. He may also perform research on ancient and modern Arabic culture.

In some cases, an individual might work with the military as well. In the United States, an Arabic linguist may be employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and help with preventing terrorism. Other times, he may work as a diplomat and act as a liaison between two countries.

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