Ever since its launch in December 2014, Skype Translator has been facilitating connections and relationships across languages. And today, we’re taking another step in our human connection journey by announcing the availability of Arabic as a Skype Translator spoken language.
Each of Skype Translator’s language releases has been very important for us—bringing us one step closer to breaking down language barriers for people across the world. Human connection is at the core of everything we do at Skype.
The Arabic language release is especially important to us, because there is such a diverse Arabic speaking population all over the world. The ability to communicate with someone in their own language has the potential to enhance and build important relationships. For example, younger generations who speak a different language can communicate with extended family; or newly formed and migrating families are able to stay connected with family and friends back home; or educational institutions can tap the vast pool of knowledge between cultures.
There are many scenarios where Skype Translator can enhance communication and understanding, from education and travel, to non-profit organizations—the ideas are endless.
Specifically, we are releasing Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) which is used in the Middle East and Northern Africa as a standard form of the Arabic language. Unlike dialects which may vary greatly from country to country, MSA is used throughout the Arab-speaking world in written and formal communications. This version of Arabic is taught in schools and used by journalists, for example.
Arabic is the official language of 22 countries. It’s the native language of more than 200 million people residing in a geographical region stretching from Southwest Asia to Northwest Africa. Natural Language Processing researchers within Microsoft’s Advanced Technology Laboratory have been leading this project to train Arabic speech models for Skype Translator and for the Microsoft Translator apps for Android and iOS for in person translations. See the details in the Microsoft Research Translator team’s blog.
Skype Translator now provides eight spoken languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), and, of course, Arabic. This is accompanied by more than 50 written languages we support so you can text with others around the world, even if you don’t speak the same language.
You can find the Arabic language setting in the Skype for Windows desktop application under the globe icon. There is a dropdown menu where you can turn on Skype Translator, and pick your messaging and spoken language preferences.
Our Skype Translator customers have memorable, inspiring and unique stories. We love hearing your stories on social media using #SkypeTranslator, or on the Skype Community forum. As always, please feel free to visit Skype Support if you need any help getting set up with Skype Translator, or have questions along the way.