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Twitter begins adding Arabic support

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Twitter Inc. is one step closer to adding Arabic, a long-demanded language which it first promised to users years ago.

Making the microblogging service friendly to Arabic—as well as Farsi, Hebrew, Urdu, and other languages written right to left—required more work than anticipated. As the Daily Dot reported earlier this month, though, Twitter declared Arabic was a “top priority”—and now it’s starting to deliver.

The first step: Twitter has added right-to-left support to its translation center, which “takes a crowd-sourced approach to translating and localizing Twitter for people around the world,” reported Twitter on its blog. There are more than 425,000 volunteers already working with Twitter to help translate tweets, and Twitter is now welcoming volunteers to begin the work of translating its site into Arabic and the other new languages.

“We’ve also made changes behind the scenes to give right-to-left language speakers a localized user experience,” Twitter reported. “As soon as our volunteers have completed their translation work, we’ll make Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu available for everyone on Twitter.com later this spring.”

The announcement Wednesday had symbolic timing, coming on the one-year anniversary of Egypt's uprising against the Mubarak regime—a revolution fueled by Twitter and other social media.

A Semiocast study done last year found that Arabic was one of the fastest-growing languages on the microblogging platform. As the Daily Dot reported three weeks ago, Twitter has about 650,000 Arab-speaking users generating 1.23 million tweets a day.

They all tweet despite Twitter’s limitations, using third-party tools like Artwitter.com or other workarounds.

Many of these Arabic tweets have been from the Middle Eastern protesters like Danya Bashir who told Women News that she used Twitter “to update journalists and activists around the world who couldn't cover the NATO-backed popular uprising due to the severe dangers of the situation and travel restrictions imposed by then-president Moammar Gadhafi.”

SupportArabic, a Twitter account and website dedicated to encouraging support for the language, has attracted thousands of followers.

Image via A l i |§| عليّ