Arabic Blockchain Glossary (Working title)
We are a network of three MENA-based blockchain-focused initiatives and one company of editorial and translation service providers, joining our forces to develop and propagate an opensource unified glossary for translating essential blockchain technology to Arabic.
Through the last decade, the Arab region maintained what might be the globe’s slowest adoption rate of blockchain technology, despite the number of problems that this technology can mitigate in the region.
While there are multiple possible factors behind this High Potential / Low Adoption paradox, one of leading factors might be the linguistic bottleneck keeping most of quality blockchain content inaccessible to the Arab user.
This problem is largely caused by the complex nature of Arabic language, which consists of a dozen dialects spread across two continents, and struggles with digesting the stream of new technical terminology dissipated from the Western world.
Currently, there is no unified reference for translating, localizing and Arabizing blockchain terminology.
Essential terms like ‘blockchain’ and ‘NFTs’ are either written with Arabic alphabet, resulting in different spellings for the same term (Blockchain could be spelled بلوكتشين or بلوكشين or بلوكتشاين or بلوكشاين or بلوك شاين or بلوك تشاين or بلوك شين or بلوك تشين); or translated to Arabic, resulting in multiple possible translations.
Despite there being individual attempts, different platforms still use different translation standards, creating an infrastructural problem. We want to tackle this problem early on, before translation efforts become even more dispersed.
- Poor SEO Efficiency.
Without a unified reference for localizing blockchain, there will be no unified spelling or translation for essential SEO keywords and hashtags. Publishers, websites and apps currently struggle to be found by their online audience, as one different letter or entirely different translation can lead browsers away from a certain result.
Poor SEO efficiency is expected to affect and undermine all targeting efforts of MENA users when Arabic content is concerned (publications, influencers, UI, UX, etc).
- Translation Cost Inefficiency
Arabic is one of the five most spoken languages in the world, however, the Ethereum website (for example) was translated to over 40 languages before it finally became partially available in Arabic in late 2021. This observation could be generalized to any number of blockchain projects, where Arabic translations are still unavailable or made available at a disproportionately late stage.
This is due in part to the lack of trusted and unified references on translating blockchain to a language as tricky as Arabic, which made every project aiming to translate its copy to start from scratch, and spend more resources and time than needed translating to other languages.
- Barrier Against Mono-Lingual Arabs
The lack of Arabized blockchain content and communication establishes a linguistic barrier in the face of mono-lingual Arabs. While there are no clear statistics on mono-lingual Arabs, the statistics regarding illiteracy in the Arab region are a strong indicator that well over two thirds of the residents don’t have the needed literacy in a universal second language so they can digest complex blockchain topics outside their mother tongue.
The Arab world remains today one of the slowest regions in terms of blockchain adoption in the world, and this linguistic barrier could be one of the leading factors behind this issue.
- Unintentional Biases
Due to the asymmetrically high formal adoption of blockchain technology in the GCC region (particularly: Kuwait, KSA, UAE, Oman, Bahrain), most of localization and translation efforts are happening in and for this region, which resulted in a number of unintentional biases, such as local and regional biases (translations are more understood in the GCC than the rest of the Arab region), or medium biases (translations are more equipped to platforms popular in GCC in particular.
This can establish a loop where blockchain becomes more popular in the GCC region and less served outside of it.
While producing an Arabic glossary for blockchain technology isn’t in itself a great challenge, the challenge would be to produce a glossary that is widely adopted to the point that it starts effectively tackling the pre-mentioned problems, such as poor SEO efficiency stemming from dispersed translation efforts.
In order to achieve this ‘Unified’ quality, we will:
- Decentralize the translation process and widen the scope of the translation team. The current network brings together short of 70 people working at the four participating parties, in addition to individual experts that will either participate in the translation sessions, or be consulted on the outcome of different stages of the project.
We believe this approach will achieve many advantages, such as including a wide range of participants to make sure that adopted translations are well understood across MENA countries, without unintentional biases such as region and medium biases.
- Propagate the glossary across different industries, particularly higher education institutes, pan-Arab media and social media blockchain-focused influencers, bloggers, youtubers and streamers.
We are dedicating an entire phase for propagating the glossary, geared towards achieving quantifiable goals, listed below. We believe this approach will contribute to the wider adoption of the glossary, maybe even tap into network effect, in a way that tackles the SEO efficiency issue.
The project will be implemented throughout the following four stages:
During the first phase, we will partner up with DocStream to survey 30,000 words of blockchain content, collected across 4 categories: 1. Whitepapers, 2. Wikipedia pages, 3. Press & Media, 4. Social Media (Twitter / Discord).
We will then sort the terms used in this sample by frequency of use, and cluster them in patches of 60 terms each, starting with the most frequently used terms.
In parallel, we will settle on a set of translation approaches, taking in consideration 4 main factors: 1. Adoptability, 2. Region transference, 3. Medium agnostic, 4. Cultural equivalence.
In this phase, participating translators, whether individuals or institutions, will receive a sheet for each patch of terms, with three columns: Original Term / Proposed Translation / Rationale. Each party will fill in the sheet with their proposed translations and rationales.
A series of online workshops will follow, bringing together representatives of each party. One workshop will be conducted for each patch, to discuss proposed translations, vote on the most persuasive one, and document the used rationale.
After that, every patch of finalized translations will be sent to DocStream for conjucation, where terms will be adapted to different linguistic contexts (plural form, dual form, sex forms, etc), then to ZeFi for publishing.
We aim to translate around 600 terms in the first patch, the resulting glossary, along with its documentation, will be published on a sub-domain hosted and maintained by ZeFi.
After publishing, we will launch a propagation campaign geared towards achieving adoption for the glossary at 5 levels. We plan by the end of this phase to have the glossary adopted by:
Academic level: 5 Colleges
Media level: 2 Mainstream Media, 10 Alternative media
Social Media level: 25 blockchain pages and influencers
Arabic UI / UX level: 5 apps and/or websites
Wikipedia level: used in translating 20 essential pages through a translation grant
4- Translation Unit
After the full implementation of the project, the network will establish a joint translation unit, geared towards achieving three long term goals:
Updating the glossary on bi annual basis,
Organizing translation workshops to train new translators,
Providing a trusted and up to date translation service from and to Arabic, for blockchain businesses operating in or expanding to MENA.
We will be consulting with a small group of academic and industry experts on the end of each project stage. Beside that, we will be accepting and reviewing editing and addition requests from the public. Lastly, we plan to update the glossary upon 6-9 months intervals, adding new terms and applying any necessary modifications to previous translations.
We are finishing the first phase of the project (Research). During this phase we are producing the following:
- MOU and contracts to organize the legal relations between the involved parties, here’s the latest draft we came up with:
مذكرة تفاهم MOU (1)-1.docx - Google Docs
- Setting translation methodology and approach, we are nearly done with this task, you can view our progress on this doc:
- Listing and patching terms to be translated, we are nearly done with this task, you can view our progress on this airtable project:
Airtable - Crypto Glossary
Differentiation (from other projects)
Today there is three main references to translating blockchain terminology to Arabic:
- ZeFi’s Zectionary: By the time our project was conceived, one member of our network, ZeFi, was translating their own glossary, with 1400 terms translated to one extend or another. ZeFi agreed to pause working on the part of their glossary that intersects with the networks, and they shared their efforts with us to build upon.
- Ethereum’s Glossary: The Ethereum Foundation has developed a de facto glossary during translating their materials to Arabic, however, this glossary is not publicly available. The EcoDeve team of EF is providing us with logistical support, and sharing their glossary (and potentially other resources) with us to build upon.
- Majarra’s TechnoDhad: Majarra is a Dubai-based company that provides editorial and translation services, and is today translating and issuing the Arabic versions of the following magazines amongst others (MIT Review, Popular Science, Harvard Business Review). Majarra has developed their own technological and scientific glossary, titled TechnoDhad. While Majjara withdrew from our project due to lack of resources, the manager of TechnoDhad, Ameen Qattoush, agreed to offer free consultation for our project at different stages of development.
- Arabs in Blockchain. An initiative centered around publicizing blockchain through online and offline events. Their founder, Eman, has been a leading contributor in translating the Ethereum website to Arabic.
Arabs in Blockchain is founded by Eman Hewary, who played a pioneering role in translating Ethereum to Arabic.
DocStream. A collective of editorial / translation service providers based in Dubai, DocStream consists of tens of experts trusted by over a hundred clients, including the British Council.
Tafkir. A public goods and research initiative geared towards facilitating blockchain adoption in MENA, Tafkir has conceived this project and established the network around it.
ZeFi. A 40-person strong public good research and media hub, ZeFi were in the process of developing their own blockchain dictionary, Zectionary, when contacted for this project, and we will be building on their existing efforts as a corner stone.a
Rachid Mezghouti. a Moroccan translator based in Qatar, who worked for the FIFA, The National Media Museum in Qatar, and online trading platform The Group Securities. CV.
Tarek M. Hassan (advisor). BizDev Consultant, Career Advisor & Writer, University Instructor, En → Ar Translator.
Grant Request $
What the Funds Are For
- Research phase:
Network building, conception, coordination and presentation / Tafkir (75 hrs)
Setting translation approaches and philosophy / The Network (100 hrs)
Data collection and analysis / DocStream (100 hrs)
Sharing existing resources and drafting Contracts / ZeFi (100 hrs)
Fundraising / Arabs in Blockchain, Tafkir and ZeFi (50 hrs)
Budget: 425 hrs x 25 $/hour = $10,625
- Translation phase:
Patching and outlining / DocStream (20 hrs)
Lead coordinator / DocStream (30 hrs)
Translation / The Network (10 workshops X 6 Persons X 4 hrs = 240 hrs)
Conjugation / DocStream (15 hrs)
Website development / ZeFi (150 hrs)
Review and feedback / Consultants and Advisors (20 hrs)
Project branding / The Network (20 hrs)
Budget: 495 hrs x 25 $/hour = $12,375
- Propagation phase:
Academic Networking / The Network (15 hrs)
Media and social media networking / The Network (80 hrs)
Arabic UI / UX networking / The Network (15 hrs)
Wikipedia grant set up / Tafkir (50 hrs)
Wikipedia grant: $5,000
Budget: (160 hrs x 25 $/hour) + $5,000 = $9,000
- Translation Unit phase:
Unit bylaws, workflow and incorporation as a business / The Network
First workshop for training blockchain translators + educational resources creation / The Network
Covered by participating entities.
Contingency: 10% ($3,200)
Raised: $11,300 (from Solana Foundation, part of a grant awarded to Tafkir)
We are receiving logistical support from the Ethereum Foundation’s EcoDev team, who are sharing with us Ethereum’s previous efforts on translating resources to Arabic, and the de facto glossary that they have developed while translating.
Additional Resources, Links, Portfolio
Glossary project presentation:
Tafkir (Taxir Initiative) website:
Arabs in Blockchain website: https://taxir.xyz/
ZeFi website: https://zefi.com
DocStream website: https://docstream.co