Google/Facebook Go Persian in Response to Iran Discussion

    June 19, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google announced that Google Translate now offers translation between the English and Persian (Farsi) languages. With all of the news discussion from within and all over the world surrounding Iran, the company presumably felt that having this available would be beneficial for those trying to stay informed.

"We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran," says Google Principal Scientist Franz Och. "Like YouTube and other services, Google Translate is one more tool that Persian speakers can use to communicate directly to the world, and vice versa — increasing everyone’s access to information."

Google has optimized the service for translation between Persian and English, but the company says it is working on getting an additional 40 languages involved with Persian translation, to be available via Google Translate.

Like most machine translation, the Persian/English translation offered by Google is not perfect, and Google acknowldges this. Google’s Matt Cutts points out on his blog that Google provides a set of translation bookmarklets for many languages, including Persian. These let you highlight text in a foreign language, click the bookmarklet and get an instant English translation.

Translation Bookmarklets

Facebook Goes Persian

For pretty much the same reasons that Google is now offering Persian translation, Facebook has also launched a Persian-language version of the social network. "Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian—the native language of Iran—but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages," explains Facebook’s Eric Kwan.

Facebook in Persian

Facebook users’ browsers who are set to Persian will see the Persian version of Facebook automatically. They can also go here to select their preferred language.