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Microblogging Service Plurk Attracts Asian Users

When it comes to microblogging, Twitter is king. However, according to this article on PC World, its sovereignty is being threatened in several Asian countries by upstart microblogging service Plurk, which offers the support for local languages and alphabets that Twitter largely lacks. Right now, Plurk is offered in 33 languages, including English, Chinese, Russian, and Hindi. It also offers support for European languages like Catalan and Irish. Compare that to Twitter, which only offers 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese.

According to PC World, Twitter founder Biz Stone has stated that company finds it difficult to offer localized services for Asian languages, which is why Japanese is the only Asian language Twitter supports.

However, Plurk appears to have overcome these obstacles with no problems. The company handles translations by enlisting teams of its users to translate. In PC World, Plurk’s founder Alvin Woon noted that this system made the translation process surprisingly fast, saying :

“When Plurk first launched, we had a translation system where the whole system was translated into 25 different languages in two weeks, and it’s all done by our users…I’ve been surprised at how many people want to translate Plurk into their own language.”

Overall, Twitter still gets much more traffic than Plurk. However, looking at the respective popularity of each service in different countries illustrates what a profound effect local language support can have. For example,  according to PC World, Plurk beats out Twitter for the title of top-ranking microblogging site in Taiwan, and it is also extremely popular in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The lesson here is simply that customers want to use products and services that speak their language. Translation services are important for international companies because they help increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Teaching Language With Twitter

Your mental image of a knight probably includes weapons like a sword or a lance. However, a university professor in the United States just earned a knighthood using more modern weapons, specifically Twitter, Facebook and Skype.  According to WACH, a local Fox News affiliate, Dr. Lara Lomicka Anderson will be knighted by the French government for incorporating these technologies into her foreign language classes.

Dr. Anderson teaches French to students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She is being made a Chevalier of the Order des Palmes Academiques for her innovative teaching techniques that include the use of tools like Twitter as well as international travel. As Dr. Anderson explained to WACH,  “One way I do that is through a partnership with a school in France located outside of Paris, and we use all of these technologies to promote a collaborative partnership among students.”

The two schools partner so that the US students can learn French and the French students can learn English. Each student is assigned a partner from the other school. Social networking technologies like Facebook, Skype and Twitter become the glue that hold these partnerships together, giving students a convenient way to practice languages with each other.  After a year’s worth of study, the American students then travel to France to meet their study partners “in real life.”

The Ordre des Palmes Académiques was instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte  to reward those who “advance the French language.”  This won’t be the first award Dr. Anderson has received for her work- according to a press release from the university, she was also awarded the National Award for Excellence in Technology by The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language and Cengage Learning in 2008.

Next Year, Twitter Will Be Available in Arabic

Popular messaging service Twitter just announced that it would be broadening its appeal by launching in Arabic next year. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced the plans in an interview with Abu Dhabi’s The National.

Currently, Arabic speakers who want to use Twitter must either tweet in English, tweet in “Arabish,” a system used to render Arabic words using Roman numerals and letters, or use one of the Arabic-language Twitter clients instead of the Twitter website itself.

Fast Company notes that optimizing the Twitter homepage for the Arabic language will be a bit of a challenge for Twitter, since Arabic is read from right to left instead of left to right.

Considering how many Twitter users use the service via text message, another challenge is the fact that many cell phones don’t have Arabic keypad options available. Read more

K International 2014 Twitter Template

Twitter Background Template 2014

So you may have noticed twitter recently tweaked its user interface design, this got us around to thinking that we could use some of that screen real estate for a bit of extra marketing for our business translation service.

It turns out we were a bit late to the party, many companies are already adopting the idea. You may have seen a few profiles that place extra information in their twitter background or design their image to fit around the feed, have you ever wondered how its done? We can show you the ropes, to do it accurately you need a template. This removes much of the trial and error out of getting things lined up as intended.

Read more

Twitter Enters the Murky World of Machine Translation

Twitter Enters the Murky World of Machine Translation

Last week you may have heard, or even seen, that Twitter has been trialling automated translation of tweets from certain individuals in Egypt. Following the recent political upheaval, the former president Mohammed Morsi, opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei and Arab Spring activist Wael Ghonim have all had tweets made available to non-Arabic speaking readers.

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Twitter Expands Use of Bing Translation

To celebrate the beginning of the World Cup in Brazil, Twitter has begun using Bing Translation to make it easier to read tweets in other languages.

The translation feature was already available on the Twitter webpage and Windows phones, and Twitter began testing it on its Android app a couple of weeks ago. Now, it’s been made available on the iOS app for Apple devices. That should cover most smartphone users, with the exception of the last few stubborn BlackBerry users.

Currently, to translate a tweet from the one of the mobile apps, you have to exit the timeline by clicking on the individual tweet. However,  Twitter also just made it easier to translate tweets on its webpage directly in the timeline. Now, all you have to do is click on the grey globe icon in the top right corner of the tweet, and you’ll get an option to view the translation. The translation appears below the original tweet.

According to CNET:

“The changes could increase Twitter’s already considerable utility and influence as a global communications medium. People use Twitter not just to find about about sporting events in Brazil, but also political protests in Turkey, elections in Europe, and civil war in Syria.”

While machine translation is the only realistic option for a service like Twitter, it’s important to keep in mind that machine translation is far from perfect at this point.  Combine that with how quickly information and misinformation alike spread on Twitter, and it will be interesting to see what happens. I predict that in the months to come, we’ll have plenty of examples of both the potential and the pitfalls of this technology.

What do you think of Twitter’s new translation options?

Twitter May Soon Offer Auto-Translate Feature

One of the nice things about Twitter is how easy it is to connect with people all over the world. For example, think of how Twitter has been used to help people communicate during disasters, providing real-time information about the Haiti earthquake to people across the globe. Unfortunately, at the moment, it’s only possible to communicate with people who are tweeting in the same language as you. However, Twitter’s language barrier may be about to come down: PCMag.com is reporting that the Twitter team may soon unveil an Auto-Translate feature for tweets.

Details are a little sketchy at the moment, as Twitter hasn’t yet released any details. However, writer Mark Hachman noticed that, for brief period of time on Wednesday of last week, the results page for trending topics featured 2 new options: the option to limit the tweets shown to a specific language and the option to automatically translate non-English tweets:

The results page (from one of Wednesday’s trending topics, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”) allows a user to filter a tweet by language, from Arabic to Icelandic to Thai. But just above that appeared a clickable option to translate the tweets on the page to my preferred language, English.

It’s not uncommon for Twitter to test out new features without announcing them before they are ready to roll out. The new feature appears to use Google Translate to provide the translations, so they probably won’t be perfect but they should get the point across.

There hasn’t been any official announcement about when the service will be available consistently for everyone, but look for it sometime in the near future. Once they get it rolled out, Twitter will become an even more powerful channel for global communication.

Twitter: the New Haiku?‎

Twitter, the microblogging social network that limits users to “tweets” of 140 characters or less, is growing across the globe. However, communicating with the world in 140-character bursts has really taken off in Japan, especially after the earthquake and its accompanying tsunami earlier this year.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter’s Japanese membership increased by one third in just the first week after the earthquake. Of course, with other forms of communication cut off during the disaster, it’s not surprising that more people would jump on the Twitter bandwagon in an attempt to stay in touch with the outside world. Read more

Twitter Now Speaks Korean

Popular microblogging service Twitter just learned a new language: Korean. As of Wednesday, January 19th, Korean users can now send and receive tweets in their native Hangul alphabet from the Twitter website itself, instead of having to resort to a third-party application to translate the site.

In a Korean-language press release translated in the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter wrote:

“With this launch, Twitter is now available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Korean. With 70 percent of Twitter accounts belonging to users outside the U.S., it’s important for us to make Twitter available in as many languages as possible, and we hope to support even more by the end of this year.”

Why Korea? At a press conference, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams says that the decision was a result of increased demand. Read more

The Pope Tweets in Latin

Change sometimes comes slowly to the Catholic Church. However, last month the Vatican’s communications strategy took a huge leap forward when Pope Benedict XVI joined other world leaders on Twitter, under the username @Pontifex.

At first, his Holiness tweeted in English on his main account, with 7 other accounts dedicated to tweets in languages including Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Last weekend, the Pope launched another account, this time in Latin. Read more