Google’s company motto is, famously, ‘Don’t be evil’.
In general, however, Google remains a company with a better reputation than most. Part of this is because Google continues to make useful tools and then basically give them away. Many of these tools are very useful in the translation field, so I’m more aware than most of the powerful utilities Google makes available to everyone.
The Arabizi Tool
One of their more recent tools which might be obscure to folks who don’t live and breathe words the way I do is their Arabizi tool. Arabizi is a Roman-alphabet-based Arabic script, designed for use on platforms that don’t have Arabic keyboards or font capabilities.
While generally deprecated because it doesn’t use the actual Arabic alphabet, it’s generally acknowledged as useful, since there are circumstances where it would other wise be impossible to create documents or posts in Arabic at all. The new tool takes Arabizi text and automatically translates it into the correct Arabic script.
Similar tools also exist for languages such as Russian, Persian, Hindi and Hebrew, among others. These leaves plenty of major non-Roman alphabet languages unserved, of course, but I don’t doubt many of these are being worked on and will appear as part of future iterations of the tool.
The tool gives everyone the ability to post on the Internet or create documents that use the correct Arabic script even if they don’t have the correct fonts or keyboard to do so. Arabizi is a bit clunky, but its a very good mapping of Arabic to the Roman alphabet and the results are very good, so this tool undoubtedly works very well.
If you’re familiar with the Arabic language (even if you speak it but cannot read or write it), Arabizi enables you to compose in Arabic, and now Google’s tool enables you to do so even if your computer does not support Arabic in any way.
It’s currently only available on the Windows platform, but since this is Google, after all, it will undoubtedly be available for the Android soon enough.
Google Efforts in the Middle East
Google has been working to boost its profile in the Middle East. Aside from releasing tools such as the Arabizi translator, it has established a specific YouTube channel for Middle Eastern concerns, and has been in general working to make its services more accessible to non-English speakers.
I’m also impressed that they have participated in the Endangered Languages Project, helping to preserve languages with shrinking communities of native speakers. So many corporations are only concerned with their bottom line; it’s nice to see a company of Google’s stature giving something back. The fact that many of those give backs can potentially make my life as a translator better is just icing on the cake!