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Jul 31st 2006

Google: Caught in a Queer Quagmire

Google is in a fabulous fix with their Language Tools.

PinkNews reports that Google has agreed to change the Arabic translation of the word “gay” within Google’s translation tool. Now, I don’t know Arabic, but reportedly, the translation Google provides is equivalent to the word sodomite, which is derogatory. PinkNews says Google has “vowed to ameliorate the issue shortly.”

So, I consulted all-encompassingly’s resident Arabic scholar, and former resident of Greater Mesopotamia, for his take on the situation.

A common word I knew, which does not appear in google translator, is a word that means deviant, or irregular. And, I think it is funny that google has to apologize for the realities of a language… I hate to tell the bleeding hearts, but being called gay using any word or euphamism is just about universally fightin’ words in Arabic culture.

Interesting. I wonder if this is something we’ll continue to see.

One Response to “Google: Caught in a Queer Quagmire”

  1. LucyC

    Doug, You brought up one of my personal pet peeves. The word “gay” has been hijacked by unscrupulous people.

    When I was still youthful and…yes…gay! I was gay in the original sense of the word: “Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry; bright or lively, especially in color.” I am on a personal campaign to bring the word back to its original intent. Unfortunately, I’ve been alone in this quest.

    My family is always rolling their eyes at me whenever I encourage them to have a “gay day today” (see how it rhymes?) or tell them about the “gay” activities I have done. So now that I see googlized Arabs caught up in the controversy it just reinforces to me how important it is to get this word back as soon as possible. The peace of the world may depend on it.

    When I read your post to my family tonight, maybe now they’ll finally understand: We need to be gay and be proud of it! (Oh this is going to be a fun conversation tonight!!)

    Things I learned today that I didn’t know before: We have a resident Arab scholar at the AE blog! Yay!