Twitter expands its audience: now available in four right-to-left languages

By: Lien Brusselmans

March 8, 2012

Twitter is all about language and language can be very complex. The omnipresence of languages like English or Spanish might make us forget that not all languages are written from left to right! Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu are spoken by over 450 million people around the world and written ‘the other way around’: from right to left.

Twitter is now available in these four languages, something that’s been made possible in record time thanks to the hard work of a group of volunteers joined in the Twitter Translation Center and the efforts of the engineering team who made it possible to write tweets in both left-to-right and right-to-left scripts, without messing up hashtags or numbers. They even made it possible to combine both scripts in one tweet without causing any problems.

It was not until January 25th that Twitter added Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu to the languages in its Translation Center.  Volunteers from all over the world – including a Saudi blogger, Egyptian college students, a journalist at the BBC, IT professionals in Iran and Pakistan, an Israeli schoolteacher, the co-founders of the grassroots #LetsTweetInArabic campaign, academics specializing in linguistics, and teenagers in Lebanon – immediately started translating Twitter into these four languages. It’s touching to learn how some of the volunteers live in regions where Twitter is officially blocked and yet put a lot of time and effort in trying to make it accesible for their communities, without any guarantee they will ever have (official) access to the site.

Engagor also acknowledges the importance of languages: we support over 160 languages, including the four Twitter now included in its package. Whatever language you use on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and news sites: chances are very high we’ll we be able to process it. For those people who don’t speak that many languages: we always offer an automatic translation into English.