Twitter unveils support for ‘Arabic with Feminine Grammar’

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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The US-based microblogging platform Twitter has unveiled an “Arabic (feminine)” language setting, allowing the social media site to communicate with users using feminine grammar, as part of an inclusion and diversity drive.

Ms. Rasha Fawakhiri, Twitter’s communications Head for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remarked that “we want our service to reflect the voices that shape the conversations that take place on our service.”

In Arabic, verbs agree with the gender of their subject. Masculine forms are used to address mixed or unknown audiences and are the default in most texts.

Twitter did not introduce a non-binary gender language option in Arabic, but Ms. Fawakhiri said that the company is working on additional gender-neutral projects for the site. It intends to add a designed gender pronoun field to Twitter profiles so that users can display how they want to be addressed.

Until now, the instruction for the user to tweet in Arabic had only been available in the masculine form “gharrid.” With a change of settings, this command can now display on Twitter as “gharridi,” the feminine form.

Twitter stated that it is the first social media platform to introduce an “Arabic (feminine)” language option. Dubai-based global logistics company Aramex added a similar language option to its corporate website in April.

Ms. Fawakhiri said that “we want to provide people with the option of how they prefer to be addressed,” and also adding that Twitter began with Arabic and, the initiative might be expanded to other languages.

Last year, the company amended some of its engineers’ process language to make it more inclusive. This included “they, them or their” pronouns and replacing “man-hours” with “person or engineer hours”, and “master or slave” with “leader or follower”.

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