Twitter Crowdsourcing Language Support for French, Italian, German, Spanish

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-09

Twitter is preparing for international expansion into French, Italian, German and Spanish languages.

What's interesting is how Twitter, currently available only in English and Japanese, will enable additional language support: crowdsourcing.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said Oct. 8 Twitter's translation team is offering a tool for people with fluency in other languages to suggest translations for Twitter. Stone wrote:

"We are inviting a small group of people to become volunteer translators at first. As more folks volunteer, the translation suggestions should accumulate faster and we'll have enough material to respond by making Twitter available not only in English and Japanese but also French, Italian, German, and Spanish. We will distribute the translations to Twitter platform developers, making it easier for them to offer multiple language support as well."

Why take this approach? Stone noted that most Twitter applications-and protocols such as @mentions and retweet-exist today because developers took advantage of Twitter's open platform. Twitter then follows up with a "technical response to make them actual features."

He emphasized that Twitter hopes to make the service available in several other languages.

The notion of U.S.-based Web services expanding to other languages is becoming a hot trend. Twitter's language push recalls efforts by Facebook more than a year ago, when the company released Spanish, French and other language versions. Facebook is currently available in some 65 languages, thanks to a translation tool, which the social network offered to its Facebook Connect programmers.

Google, meanwhile, unveiled a Website translation gadget to let developers render their site content in 51 languages.

Despite occasional outages-like the one that put Twitter's timeline on the fritz for a few hours yesterday-Twitter's star is on the rise. Since banking an undisclosed amount of funding that values that company at $1 billion, Twitter has begun rolling out its geolocation API and announced the coming of Twitter Lists.

Yesterday, AllThingsDigital reported that Twitter will be offering its feeds to Google and Microsoft for indexing in their search engines.

Indeed, Twitter can't get much hotter, but soon enough it will be in French, Italian, German and Spanish. More languages means more people have access, which means more users to glom onto the Twitter craze.

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