Arab web portal
March 23, 2003 5:56 PM   Subscribe

English-friendly Arab web portal: For those who want to better understand what Arab news agencies are printing/broadcasting or if you want to be able to read any web site published in Arabic, the Ajeeb portal has a free translation service. It translated Arabic to English more clearly than how I've seen babblefish handle other languages. However, one should approach any translation with circumspection, especially in light of current events.
posted by Modem Ovary (5 comments total)
First, they've introduced a horrible cellular phone service pop-up that won't die when I tell it to. Second, it doesn't appear to be free. You're asked to register and are provided with one free translation (which returns Arabic for Arabic when an AR>EN text translation is requested). Web page translation doesn't return a readable page, or returns a mixture of Arabic and English. Doesn't work at all on BBC Arabic service.

I believe English translations coming from Al-Jazeera may be pre-translated. They sound a little more polished than MT of Arabic usually does. AJ is in the process of providing an English-language edition. My experience with Ajeeb in the past is that it is no better than any other machine translation service, and usually a lot worse, since the syntax of the language doesn't really allow for helpful gisting. Interesting interview on CNN Radio yesterday with the head of the American Translators Association about our gap in what have become the "defense languages" of the post-Cold War. The interview's not indexed at the site, but this is: the dog-to-human machine translator. Our troops in the region will be using a machine translation device called the Phraselator.
Besides converting orders like “put your hands up” into spoken Arabic or Kurdish, military officials hope to enable quick translations of time-sensitive intelligence from some of the world’s most difficult tongues — normally a painstaking task.

... The devices, some already tested in the Balkans and Afghanistan, range from Palm-style handhelds that use English-language cues to play prerecorded foreign phrases, to a two-way voice translator developed partly at Lockheed Martin’s Owego plant that allows speakers of English and Serbo-Croatian to hold a shaky conversation.

... The $2,000 machine converts from English and plays 200,000 recorded commands and questions in 30 languages including Pashto, Dari, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.The Palm-sized machines can’t understand the answers, so soldiers’ questions — spoken into the device — must be framed for “yes” or “no” answers.
Excellent nom de blog, by the way.
posted by hairyeyeball at 6:56 PM on March 23, 2003

Here is what the site says about having closed down discussion section, ie, they want open discussions but there ought to be "solidarity"--what the heck does that mean? But here:
"Ajeeb’s forum administration would like to inform its members and participants that the discussion forum will be discontinued until further notice.
This decision comes after the administration noticed continued disregard for the rules of the forum, particularly at a time when solidarity is called for between the peoples "

Does this mean some people are nervy and do not follow a party line?
posted by Postroad at 7:56 PM on March 23, 2003

Odd. This worked for me without having to register. You do have a point about the Al Jazeera site. The translation is too polished, but there are other pages that possibly weren't pretranslated. I personally read this site, and any news site for that matter, with a proverbial grain of salt.
posted by Modem Ovary at 6:28 AM on March 24, 2003

Or you could go straight to the source: Al Jazeera in English. They launched their English site a few days ago -- but it is really hard to get through because they 1) can't seem to handle the bandwidth, and 2) were the target of a DOS attack from the US on Tuesday morning... Apparently the Al Jazeera reporters were also kicked out of the NYSE for "space considerations" after the network's coverage of the American soldiers this past weekend.
posted by techgirl at 4:16 PM on March 25, 2003

techgirl said: and 2) were the target of a DOS attack

The linked article is actually contradictory about whether there was an attack or not, and the web host administrator quoted provides no detail on why he thinks there was an attack. Seems a bit premature and speculative at this point.
posted by yonderboy at 5:30 PM on March 25, 2003

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