Although the Arabic language is the fifth most spoken language in the world at present, with around 420 million speakers worldwide, it remains greatly underrepresented online.
Just over 5% of content on the internet is available in the Arabic language, while the English and Chinese languages make up almost 50%.
This lack of Arabic language content can create issues for businesses, private internet users, students, academics, and so on, as learning, promoting understanding of the Arabic culture, and online sales, are all affected by one’s ability to use the internet in our native language.
For many students and academics around the globe, Wikipedia is the first port of call when searching for knowledge regarding a particular topic, however, the lack of information available online in the Arabic language can make finding answers far more difficult.
While English is often a second language for many native Arabic speakers, when investigating scholarly, or intellectual information online, true understanding is attained far more easily when you are able to access this information in your native tongue.
In order to rectify this issue, young Arabs, alongside regional partners, are leading efforts to promote the use of Arabic language online and encourage knowledge and enlightenment within the Arab world.
Their aim is to translate scientific works based on evolution, new technologies, and social and political sciences, from English into Arabic, so that native Arabic speakers are able to access the information they need in their native tongue.
Beyond Borders, a non-profit US based translation initiative which aims to encourage knowledge and cross-cultural acceptance, has recently launched a new project named Bayt al-Hikma 2.0.
Bayt al-Hikma, meaning ‘House of Wisdom’, was launched with more than 100 translators in 2017 and has already translated over 1.5million words into Arabic, the majority of these being scientific articles which are then used to improve Arabic language availability on Wikipedia.
The name, Bayt al-Hikma, has historical significance for knowledge and language. In ninth-century Baghdad, Abbasid ruler Harun al-Rashid established Bayt al-Hikmah (the Arabic name for the House of Wisdom) to house the immense activity of the translation of Greek and Persian works into Arabic. This institution flourished in the reign of his son al-Ma’mun, making Baghdad the world’s biggest hub of science.
The aim is to bring together knowledge from many cultures and languages, so that it can be translated into Arabic for the benefit of future generations.
Projects, such as this, are leading the way in cross-culture knowledge, dissemination of knowledge, and bringing together people from around the world in a bid to improve scientific learning and understanding.
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