US Scientists Developing Program to Translate Middle Eastern Tweets

The popularity of microblogging service Twitter has spread across the globe, and the US government has taken notice. Twitter was one of the earliest means of communication for the Egyptian protestors, and could potentially be used to gain insight into what ordinary people in the Middle East and South Asia are thinking and feeling.

Of course, many people who live in these countries don’t tweet in English, so first you have to translate what they are saying.

The problem: Flesh-and-blood translators cost money, and there’s a shortage of qualified translators for certain languages. People don’t always or even primarily use Twitter to talk about politics or other weighty topics – there’s also a lot of mundane chatter on the network. There’s no point in having professionals spend their time translating what someone in Pakistan ate for breakfast this morning. Read more