There are now a great number of articles on the web that are of interest to readers who can only read Persian . Unfortunately there is no English-Persian automatic translator available on the web. There are many such translators available for other languages. For example a friend of mine uses Google's French-English automatic translator for his business and is highly satisfied with the quality of the translation.
Of course, I am not expecting this tool to be able to translate Shakespeare. I know that nothing can replace human translators who have masterfully translated Shakespeare to Persian or Rumi to English. Their translations are literary works of unique quality. For those texts the automatic translator will be just an assistant for the human translator. What I am discussing here is translation of everyday articles.
There are even Iranians born abroad who can use Persian to English translators enabling them to read a lot of articles in Persian about the Iran of today, and of course many Americans and Europeans and others who are interested in the news and articles from Iran.
Also I am not asking for this option to replace the need to learn English which is an international language and not particular to U.S. or U.K. natives and is a must for anybody wanting to stay at the leading-edge of science and humanities. In fact, many of the Iranian youth inside Iran nowadays speak and read English very well.
And I know there are many discussions about changing the Persian script to Latin but that is not of interest to me now. My goal is to have Iranians who read the current script to be able to get the English articles translated in the script they can read.
Those reading Persian in Latin script do not exceed even 0.5% of all who can read Persian and if a change towards their desired option happens, an automatic translator from that new Latin-based script to the current script will also be needed.
Here's a better, more practical option.
A while back I found an English-Persian automatic translator on the web. I tried to use it but I never received any response from them when I submitted my sample text for translation. Nonetheless if they or any other company have developed the tool, maybe companies like Google can use their work as a head start. Actually Google already offers its services in Persian and English, so offering an online translator would be the next step and I hope they implement it.
Currently there are many excellent English to Persian and Persian to English dictionaries. My favorite one is Aryanpour. I am glad these dictionaries already exist because they are the building blocks of the automatic translator. Let's hope that with the many Iranian experts in linguistics, computer science, English and Persian literature, can work together to create an automatic translator for us.
At the same time I am glad to see that the U.S. government has helped to develop a proxy for Iranian users who are behind the IRI block of Internet (jaamjam.com). I hope it will perhaps also commission companies like Google to develop automatic translators for Persian-English. These are the kind of projects that can be extremeley useful for Iranians and the pro-democracy movement.
Sam Ghandchi is publisher/editor of IranScope, an Iranian news and culture portal site.