Arabic Predictive Keyboards

Back in the days when I was writing Arabic on Microsoft word, there was nothing to correct me if I spell something wrong or have a grammar mistake. They later added spelling and grammar checker for Arabic.

But now the internet came, and there is an explosion of mobile devices everywhere, each of those little devices has a predictive keyboard that will autocorrect for the user if they type something wrong.

I think predictive keyboards are going to change written Arabic, forever.

The challenge with the Arabic language is that the spoken version is different from the written one. I used to write official government documents for my father, those had to be written in proper Arabic, with correct spelling and grammar. But I don’t type this version of the language when I am chatting with people. I write the same words I speak.

Every time my predictive keyboard corrects my Arabic, I undo the correction so it doesn’t sound weird to the person I am chatting with. After a while the keyboard learns the way I type, and starts autocorrecting me to the new version of Arabic it learned through my typing.

Most of these keyboards are connected to cloud services – unlike the old friend Microsoft Word back in the days – and with millions of users typing the spoken language on their mobile, uploading this data to Google or Apple servers, after a while the machine will learn the new language, and it will assume this is the correct Arabic.

I won’t be surprised if in a few decades the current written version of Arabic changes completely to be the same as the one we speak, thanks to the internet and machine learning. I don’t know whether this is good or bad.