Google Research

Beyond Arabic: Software for Perso-Arabic Script Manipulation

The 7th Arabic Natural Language Processing Workshop (WANLP2022) at EMNLP, Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Hybrid) (to appear)

Abstract

This paper presents an open-source software library that provides a set of finite-state transducer (FST) components and corresponding utilities for manipulating the writing systems of languages that use the Perso-Arabic script. The operations include various levels of script normalization, including visual invariance-preserving operations that subsume and go beyond the standard Unicode normalization forms, as well as transformations that modify the visual appearance of characters in accordance with the regional orthographies for ten contemporary languages from diverse language families. The library also provides simple FST-based romanization and transliteration. We additionally attempt to formalize the typology of Perso-Arabic characters by providing one-to-many mappings from Unicode code points to the languages that use them. While our work focuses on the Arabic script diaspora rather than Arabic itself, this approach could be adopted for any language that uses the Arabic script, thus providing a unified framework for treating a script family used by close to a billion people.

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