Following the use of social media in the Arab Spring uprisings, Twitter has added more support for a few of the languages of North Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East, including Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Urdu.

In a blog post, a Twitter spokesperson revealed the new language support is due to the work of a large and diverse group of volunteers.

“Among those who donated their time and translation skills to make right-to-left languages a reality on Twitter [are] 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.”

In conflict-torn areas of the world, Twitter execs and others are hoping that social media can help bring people together and unite them over commonalities. As the company wrote of the #Jan25 tweets, “A single tweet can bring you closer to neighbors and heroes, immerse you in political change or disaster relief.”

Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and is spoken in western India and parts of Afghanistan. Arabic is a variety of dialects is spoken throughout North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Farsi is the official language of Iran and is spoken widely in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as by communities in Bahrain, Yemen, the UAE, and elsewhere. Modern Hebrew is, along with Arabic, an official language of the State of Israel and is spoken by most of the eight million people in Israel.

Here’s a map we made to illustrate Twitter’s new geographic reach:

Right-to-left translation efforts began in earnest in January 2012. Before then, right-to-left languages were not available for crowdsourced work in the Twitter Translation Center, where hundreds of thousands of volunteers work to bring Twitter to more languages and geographies.

Image courtesy of gezzeg, Shutterstock


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