1. News & Issues

Share: Facebook (فيس بوك ) Goes Arabic and Hebrew

By March 13, 2009

Follow me on:

Facebook, the social-networking site that's either the greatest thing since six-pack pita or the most intrusive fad since the smiley-face epidemic of the early 70s this week launched its Arabic and Hebrew versions.

Facebook, which claims to have 175 million users worldwide wants to capitalize on an estimated 225 million Arabic speakers and a few million Hebrew speakers. Not that it hasn't already: Middle Easterners being the Internet-neurotics they are (how else are you to entertain yourself in authoritarian climes?), Facebook estimated in 2008 it had 365,000 members in Egypt, 200,000 in Lebanon, 173,000 in the United Arab Emirates, 126,000 in Saudi Arabia and 100,000 in Jordan. The numbers are almost certainly higher today.

But expect those hundreds of thousands of users to get frazzled: it's not so easy having to go back to writing from right to left, as Arabic and Hebrew demand, after writing from left to write all these years.

"I am a native right-to-left language speaker myself, having grown up speaking Arabic and studying Farsi and Hebrew, in addition to French, English and German," writes Ghassan Haddad, Facebook's engineer who's overseeing the launch and deciphering its challenges:

For example, with right-to-left languages some of the characters, mainly punctuation marks and numbers, are the same as those used in left-to-right languages like English. The mix of characters between languages written in different directions makes it difficult at times for Web applications to determine the correct direction in which to display the language. Design is another challenge, since a Web page laid out from right to left looks like a mirror image of an equivalent English page. All components on the page must be changed, including text alignment, ordering of tabs on pages, different fields on forms, labels, buttons and much more.

Fascinating what programming can do for human detection and interaction:
Linguistically, both Arabic and Hebrew are highly inflectional languages. In English, verbs do not change based on the gender of the person described, whereas in Arabic and Hebrew, two words with the same meaning are used differently based on whether a person is male or female. In order to deal with this issue, our developers built a feature we call dynamic explosion, which detects a person's gender and selects the matching translation.
If Haddad's tricks are so successful, maybe Facebook can also provide instant translation between Arabic and Hebrew (of the linguistic, social and cultural kind) and finally do what no American, European or Asian mediator has yet managed to do with people who speak Arabic and Hebrew: Bridge their 60-year divide.

I can see it now, in Facebook language: What's on your mind? End the Arab-Israeli conflict already. As Joan Rivers would say: "Can we talk?" Who needs Camp David when you have Facebook?

Comments

June 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm
(1) سهيل says:

se se

September 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm
(2) عبدالفتاح says:

انسان عادي

September 22, 2010 at 8:23 am
(3) الحسينى* مرواد says:

عز علينا اللقاء وطال المغيب
حتى ظننا بأن ليس لنا نصيب
ايقنت بأن فرجك لى بعد صبرى قريب
فياربى من سواك لدعائى مجيب

December 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm
(4) محمد علي المياحي says:

هااااااااااي

February 15, 2011 at 4:16 am
(5) hassan says:

اهلا وسهلا بعيد الحب

February 15, 2011 at 4:18 am
(6) حسن حسين says:

كل سنه وانتم احباب بمناسبه عيد الحب

February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm
(7) سعيد says:

انا سعيد انا جديد

March 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm
(8) ابومحمد says:

إلى:
الإنجليزية

ترجمة نص أو صفحة ويب
الي كل اخ واخت فاضله او غير يجب احترام هذا البريد ( الفيس بوك) هو تواصل بينكم وبين الكبير والصغير عدم وضع اي صور ايباحيه او الفاظ مسيئه مع الاعتبار انه من الممكن امك واختك وابنك بيتعامل مع هذا البريد الموقر لاتسيئه الاستعمال اخلاقيا ودينيا ليس من الاسلام ولا من المسيحيه ولا الاديان الارضيه البوزيه وغيره من اديان شرف اسيا الكل له احترام الاديان مثل هذاه الاشعارات البزيئه علي وجه ا لاطلاق ليه الاحنرام ليس وانا لست من لم يرغبون لا واللهي انا مثلكم لي مشاعر واحاسيس ارجوا منكم ان مثل هذا التنبيه لكم ولنفسي ان يكون اسائه للغير
السماح بالكتابة بحسب النطق الصوتي
اكتب نصًا أو عنوان موقع ويب أو ترجم مستندًا.
إلغاء
الاستماع
قراءة صوتية للكلمات
ترجمة من العربية إلى الإنجليزية
To all brothers and sisters virtuous or not must be respected This e-mail (Facebook) is to connect you and between big and small not to put any pictures Aibahih or words insulting with the account that it is possible your mother and your sister and your son Petaaml with this mail for our distinguished Atsiih use morally and religiously it is not Islam or of Christianity and religions flooring Buzih and other religions honor Asian All of respect for religions such as this Christian notices Albziih on the face of the launch of Les Cnram not and I’m not one who does not want not and my God I like you, me, the feelings and sensations I ask you to like this alert you and myself to be an offense to the non-

June 20, 2011 at 2:43 am
(9) ahmed says:

trt

July 8, 2011 at 11:36 am
(10) علي العبيدي says:

hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

September 29, 2011 at 9:00 am
(11) ahmad says:

احب الاصدقاء

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.