Microsoft looks for Arabic translation feedback

New localization portal will allow Arabic speakers to give input on Microsoft's technology translation

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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 10, 2008

Microsoft has launched a new portal to involve Arabic speakers in the process of developing new technology terms for its products.

The Localization Portal has been developed to encourage users of Microsoft's Arabic language products to comment on the translation of technology terms and to provide input into translation for future products.

Assem Hijazi, localization manager for Middle East and North Africa at Microsoft told itp.net: "This portal is the first time Microsoft looking for feedback from customers who are using the localized interface. We want them to send feedback to Microsoft telling us how they feel about the translation."

Microsoft has been Arabizing its software since 1990, said Hijazi, mainly working with software developers, linguistic experts and technical experts to develop Arabic translation of technology terms. While these experts have provided terminology, Microsoft is now looking to the customer to help guide future translations.

"If you are dealing with linguistic experts and they just translate from English to Arabic, this could have meaning for them, but we need to understand the actual user of the language interface. The most common users for us are in the public sector, education and older people, who prefer the Arabic interface, so we need to ask them how they feel about the translation. Does it make sense? Sometimes you can translate linguistically, but it does not make sense for the users," Hijazi said.

The new portal will host a small set of new Arabic translations of technology terms, taken from Windows Vista and Office 2007. The site will show the English term and meaning, and the Arabic translation, and will allow visitors to enter feedback on the translation.

Although Windows Vista Arabic has a translated glossary of over 500,000 terms that have been built up over the years, the portal has only around 90 new terms, so that users are not overloaded with terms.

The portal is intended to provide an ongoing forum for Arabic translation, with new terms added at regular intervals. Microsoft Live terminology is slated for the next update.

The aim of the portal is to settle on one translation for terms for all Arabic users, and then to have that included in the next cycle of product development, said Hijazi. A single agreed upon translation not only benefits end users, but also makes it easier for ISVs that are developing Arabic solutions.

"We need everybody using the Arabic interface, or that deals with IT in general to enter their feedback. We are using one standard Arabic across the world, so if we can get common, valuable feedback on a term, we will change that term for the next generation of office products," he said.

The portal is available here.

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