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Last updated at 15:42 BST, Friday, 05 July 2013

Twitter helps non-Arabic speakers


5 July 2013

Twitter has launched a translation tool to help non-Arabic speakers understand what's going on in Egypt. It automatically translates messages posted by leading figures in the protests into the reader's own language.


Mark Gregory

Someone using a Twitter app

Many people use Twitter on smartphones


Click to hear the report


Many of the major players in the political turmoil that's engulfed Egypt in recent days have large followings on Twitter. But for the most part, unsurprisingly, they post their messages in Arabic.

Now Twitter has launched a service that aims to spread their words to a wider international audience. It's using a translation tool provided through Microsoft's Bing search engine to convert Arabic messages into other languages. This meant, for example, that non-Egyptians had instant access to messages put on Twitter by former president Mohammed Morsi as he was ousted from power by the army.

Non-Egyptians can also follow the Twitter musings of other significant players such as Mohammed ElBaradei, the ex-UN atomic energy agency chief.

But Twitter admits its translations are not always 100% accurate. For example, the English version of the last tweet posted by former President Morsi ended with a word starting with the letters d-a-k-h-l-i-h-o-a, which neither made any sense nor appeared in any dictionary. Twitter describes its translation service as an "experiment".


Click here to hear the vocabulary



confusion and disorder


taken over or surrounded

to convert

to change (in this case - to translate)

instant access

immediate and unrestricted ability to see or use something (in this case - Twitter messages)


forced out (from power)



significant players

important people/leaders who are influencing events


exact and without mistakes


a test to see how well something works

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