Arabic and Afghan Name Translation Software Improves Intelligence Analysis

Software suite facilitates inter-agency collaboration; meets federally mandated intelligence standards

Cambridge—June 8, 2011—A crucial tool for U.S. intelligence agencies charged with translating foreign languages vital to national security was unveiled today by Basis Technology. The Highlight language analysis suite version 4.0 quickly and consistently translates the names of people and places from Arabic script to English, complying with the U.S. Intelligence Community translation standard.

“Arabic, Dari, Persian, and Pashto are complex languages with words that may be spelled many different ways when translated into English,” said Brian Roberson, Highlight program manager. “With Highlight, intelligence analysts can ensure the same name will be spelled the same way every time, by any analyst, at any agency, leading to more comprehensive searches and fewer errors.”

Roberson pointed to the 2009 “Christmas Bomber” incident as an example of how variations in name spelling can hamper intelligence efforts. In that case, the U.S. embassy in Nigeria received a warning that the bomber held “extreme religious views,” but the State Department failed to locate a record of the bomber’s U.S. visa, which might have placed him on a “no-fly” list. A subsequent White House review determined that a misspelling of the bomber’s name resulted in the missed connection.

“Names play an essential role in intelligence gathering, and are often the primary key to identifying related data,” said Roberson. “Highlight enables analysts to translate names efficiently, boosting productivity and yielding better search results.”

The latest version of Highlight offers improved accuracy in translating Arabic, Dari, and Pashto names in accordance with applicable standards. The suite also enables analysts to correct name misspellings, translate titles such as “President,” reverse name translations back to the original Arabic script, and quickly search webpages and maps for names. A database of Middle Eastern place names enables analysts to standardize their translations.

Roberson said, “Highlight seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, and can translate large databases of names in seconds.” A bundled text editor allows users to type in Arabic or Persian using a standard keyboard, and the map viewer finds locations based on approximate name spellings, he added.

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About Basis Technology

Basis Technology develops innovative products and solutions incorporating multilingual text analytics and digital forensics. Our Rosette® linguistics platform provides morphological analysisentity extractionname matchingname translation, and Arabic chat translation, yielding useful information from unstructured data in such fields as information retrieval, government intelligence, e‑discovery, and financial compliance. Our digital forensics team pioneers better, faster, and cheaper techniques to extract forensic evidence, keeping government and law enforcement ahead of exponential growth of data storage volumes.

Our products and services are used by over 250 major organizations, including, Clearwell, EMC, Endeca/Oracle, Exalead/Dassault, Fujitsu, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, NetBase, Oracle, and governments around the world. Learn more at or call +1-617-386-2090.