Twitter opens up translation for right-to-left languages

Twitter has added languages written from right-to-left to its Twitter Translation Centre. The languages available for volunteers to translate are Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu.

At least three of these languages are spoken across the Middle East, where Twitter was frequently used as a means of spreading the message of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions.

Against the background of these revolutions, which saw the overthrow of decades-old dictatorial regimes, Arabic was one of the fastest growing languages on Twitter. This despite not having any official presence on the social network to date.

According to an official blog post from Twitter, it has “developed new ways to ensure that Tweets and hashtags will work properly in right-to-left languages”.

It also claims to have made changes behind the scenes to give right-to-left language speakers a localised user experience.

It did not, however, give details on what those behind-the-scenes-changes might entail.

According to Twitter, its Translation Centre “takes a crowd-sourced approach to translating and localising Twitter for people around the world”.

“More than 425 000 volunteers contribute to the Translation Centre, and to date have helped make Twitter available in 22 languages. With their help, these will be the next four”.

As soon as its volunteers “have completed their translation work”, Twitter says, it plans to “make Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu available for everyone on”.

The announcement comes in the midst of the company’s annual “Hack Week”. Much like Google’s 20% time, Twitter claims that Hack Week allows employees to take time away “from their day-to-day work to collaborate and develop ideas that they are passionate about”.

According to the company, employees “have formed nearly 100 teams to work on a variety of projects. Some are developing ways that could make Twitter even easier to use; others are testing out a new feature or tool that people might want to see in the service”.



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