How does Arabic Google differ from English? Image results may surprise you

Published June 1st, 2016 - 13:37 GMT

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How can switching the language change your online experience? In other words, whose Google is it anyway? A cursory image search with selected key words throws into relief some differences between the Arabic and English speaking online worlds. For example, what are the "most relevant images" (Google's words - not ours!) for innocent terms like "Dance" and "Magic" to the more controversal "Terrorism" or "Gay". Consider how culture seeps into search engines.

We may 'share' Facebook, but do we use different Google Glasses? As it turns out, Arabic speakers are using a much different Google than their English counterparts.  Here are 9 of our most interesting finds. Continue reading below »

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Dance seems like a pretty innocuous google search, no? The search “dance” in English (without the words “exotic” or “pole”, of course) gives us some feel-good pictures that portray dance as a fun and even artistic activity for both men and women.
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Image 1 of 18:  1 / 18Dance seems like a pretty innocuous google search, no? The search “dance” in English (without the words “exotic” or “pole”, of course) gives us some feel-good pictures that portray dance as a fun and even artistic activity for both men and women.

Enlarge
In Arabic, on the other hand, every picture that comes up is of scantily-clad women, most of whom are lustfully staring into whatever camera took their picture. Overt connotations of disgrace, void of the grace pirouetting through on the English side! And not exactly the same cross-gender sport that appears on the English search engine!
Reduce

Image 2 of 18:  2 / 18In Arabic, on the other hand, every picture that comes up is of scantily-clad women, most of whom are lustfully staring into whatever camera took their picture. Overt connotations of disgrace, void of the grace pirouetting through on the English side! And not exactly the same cross-gender sport that appears on the English search engine!

Enlarge
For English-speakers, the word magic evokes party tricks, wands, and pixie dust - and that’s about what we get when we search for “magic” in English. To put it simply: Magic is mysterious and mischievous!
Reduce

Image 3 of 18:  3 / 18For English-speakers, the word magic evokes party tricks, wands, and pixie dust - and that’s about what we get when we search for “magic” in English. To put it simply: Magic is mysterious and mischievous!

Enlarge
Welcome to the dark side: Magic still evokes the mysterious in our Arabic search, but it might not be quite as fun… We’re not exactly sure what the creepy notes with the ashes might bring about, but the image of a doll impaled with pins might give you an idea!
Reduce

Image 4 of 18:  4 / 18Welcome to the dark side: Magic still evokes the mysterious in our Arabic search, but it might not be quite as fun… We’re not exactly sure what the creepy notes with the ashes might bring about, but the image of a doll impaled with pins might give you an idea!

Enlarge
It probably comes as no surprise that an English google search for terrorism gets you pictures of militants holding AK47s and the atrocities they commit (and maybe a spot on an FBI watchlist or two)...
Reduce

Image 5 of 18:  5 / 18It probably comes as no surprise that an English google search for terrorism gets you pictures of militants holding AK47s and the atrocities they commit (and maybe a spot on an FBI watchlist or two)...

Enlarge
... but maybe you’ll be surprised - and relieved - to learn that Arabic google gives us more of the same. Our favorite difference between the two searches? A picture captioned in Arabic with the words “Terrorism has no religion”. Turns out we’re all equally appalled at the phenomena.
Reduce

Image 6 of 18:  6 / 18... but maybe you’ll be surprised - and relieved - to learn that Arabic google gives us more of the same. Our favorite difference between the two searches? A picture captioned in Arabic with the words “Terrorism has no religion”. Turns out we’re all equally appalled at the phenomena.

Enlarge
“Modesty” - according to English Google  - is a woman wearing a dress that comes down to at least her knees and shows no cleavage. Showing skin? That’s fine, but we're not crossing over into the suggestive or seductive. In comparison with some of the more risque facets of Western fashion, these results likely appear modest to most Westerners.
Reduce

Image 7 of 18:  7 / 18“Modesty” - according to English Google - is a woman wearing a dress that comes down to at least her knees and shows no cleavage. Showing skin? That’s fine, but we're not crossing over into the suggestive or seductive. In comparison with some of the more risque facets of Western fashion, these results likely appear modest to most Westerners.

Enlarge
Our Arabic search reveals how cultures can differ in their appreciation of modesty. While some outfits are more form-fitting than others, each model wears the “Jilbab” (cloak) popular among conservative Muslim women, and not one model shows her hair. Interestingly, neither search gives us an idea of what “modesty” might look like for men.
Reduce

Image 8 of 18:  8 / 18Our Arabic search reveals how cultures can differ in their appreciation of modesty. While some outfits are more form-fitting than others, each model wears the “Jilbab” (cloak) popular among conservative Muslim women, and not one model shows her hair. Interestingly, neither search gives us an idea of what “modesty” might look like for men.

Enlarge
The word “fight” might evoke images of a drunken brawl, but its role in many cultures can also be recreational, with boxing and martial arts being popular and well-known sporting activities. Our search reflects this, showing a fight as either a sport or an organized contest between two parties.
Reduce

Image 9 of 18:  9 / 18The word “fight” might evoke images of a drunken brawl, but its role in many cultures can also be recreational, with boxing and martial arts being popular and well-known sporting activities. Our search reflects this, showing a fight as either a sport or an organized contest between two parties.

Enlarge
A fight is not quite as organized as far as Google Arabic is concerned. 8 out of the first 10 images displayed show total chaos on the streets as combatants draw clubs and take swipes at one another – a real brawl. Even images of a one-on-one fight appear unorganized, (this is no duel at dawn!) with two men trying to choke and kick one another.
Reduce

Image 10 of 18:  10 / 18A fight is not quite as organized as far as Google Arabic is concerned. 8 out of the first 10 images displayed show total chaos on the streets as combatants draw clubs and take swipes at one another – a real brawl. Even images of a one-on-one fight appear unorganized, (this is no duel at dawn!) with two men trying to choke and kick one another.

Enlarge
Homosexuality is a hot-button topic in almost every corner of the world, so how could we pass up the opportunity to add it to our show? An English Google search brings up images about as stereotypical as they cum - from ripped men making out at pride festivals to Republicans swallowing corndogs - and only the first page in our gay old selection.
Reduce

Image 11 of 18:  11 / 18Homosexuality is a hot-button topic in almost every corner of the world, so how could we pass up the opportunity to add it to our show? An English Google search brings up images about as stereotypical as they cum - from ripped men making out at pride festivals to Republicans swallowing corndogs - and only the first page in our gay old selection.

Enlarge
Arabic has many words to describe homosexuality. Even the most 'straight' of the terms pulls up a whole rainbow of visuals. From the uplifting gay pride banners, to the confusing (is that a monkey riding on the Ayatollah's back?); and an un-ironic fatwa-inspired 'strike-out' of the Gap clothes giant, spelling the label out as 'Gay And Proud'.
Reduce

Image 12 of 18:  12 / 18Arabic has many words to describe homosexuality. Even the most 'straight' of the terms pulls up a whole rainbow of visuals. From the uplifting gay pride banners, to the confusing (is that a monkey riding on the Ayatollah's back?); and an un-ironic fatwa-inspired 'strike-out' of the Gap clothes giant, spelling the label out as "Gay And Proud".

Enlarge
In keeping with the trend of removing Arabic speakers from planes and fundamentally misinterpreting Islam, the English Google search for Allahu Akbar (God is Greater) takes us down a deep rabbit hole of war-cry stereotypes and perplexing memes. How perplexing? We think the picture of Osama Bin Laden smoking a joint speaks for itself.
Reduce

Image 13 of 18:  13 / 18In keeping with the trend of removing Arabic speakers from planes and fundamentally misinterpreting Islam, the English Google search for Allahu Akbar (God is Greater) takes us down a deep rabbit hole of war-cry stereotypes and perplexing memes. How perplexing? We think the picture of Osama Bin Laden smoking a joint speaks for itself.

Enlarge
Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “God is Greater”. For Muslims, it’s a phrase uttered in prayer and in the face of events both wonderful or terrible - that is to say, it’s as regular as 'Oh my God!' in English. That probably explains why every picture in our Arabic search is merely the words “God is Greater” in various forms of calligraphy.
Reduce

Image 14 of 18:  14 / 18Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “God is Greater”. For Muslims, it’s a phrase uttered in prayer and in the face of events both wonderful or terrible - that is to say, it’s as regular as "Oh my God!" in English. That probably explains why every picture in our Arabic search is merely the words “God is Greater” in various forms of calligraphy.

Enlarge
In English, a search for maid comes up with the same thrust: A sexy, hardly-clothed woman often holding a feather duster suggestively. In fact, most of these images aren’t even maids at work - they’re costumes sold by “adult” websites!
Reduce

Image 15 of 18:  15 / 18In English, a search for maid comes up with the same thrust: A sexy, hardly-clothed woman often holding a feather duster suggestively. In fact, most of these images aren’t even maids at work - they’re costumes sold by “adult” websites!

Enlarge
In many parts of the Arab world, the maid elicits different, utilitarian and entirely non-sexual imagery. A maid is often hired help of Southeast Asian origins imported to the Middle East to work as a housekeeper. It does not appear to evoke the same sexual fantasies in Arabic as it does in English, and if anything borders on racist notions.
Reduce

Image 16 of 18:  16 / 18In many parts of the Arab world, the maid elicits different, utilitarian and entirely non-sexual imagery. A maid is often hired help of Southeast Asian origins imported to the Middle East to work as a housekeeper. It does not appear to evoke the same sexual fantasies in Arabic as it does in English, and if anything borders on racist notions.

Enlarge
Silicon seems like a safe search, right? The rare-earth material found in all of our smartphones and computers appears on English google as the raw element.
Reduce

Image 17 of 18:  17 / 18Silicon seems like a safe search, right? The rare-earth material found in all of our smartphones and computers appears on English google as the raw element.

Enlarge
As opposed to Arabic, where it’s all, well… breast implants. Turn on safesearch for this titillating ride folks!
Reduce

Image 18 of 18:  18 / 18As opposed to Arabic, where it’s all, well… breast implants. Turn on safesearch for this titillating ride folks!

Enlarge

1

Dance seems like a pretty innocuous google search, no? The search “dance” in English (without the words “exotic” or “pole”, of course) gives us some feel-good pictures that portray dance as a fun and even artistic activity for both men and women.

Image 1 of 18Dance seems like a pretty innocuous google search, no? The search “dance” in English (without the words “exotic” or “pole”, of course) gives us some feel-good pictures that portray dance as a fun and even artistic activity for both men and women.

2

In Arabic, on the other hand, every picture that comes up is of scantily-clad women, most of whom are lustfully staring into whatever camera took their picture. Overt connotations of disgrace, void of the grace pirouetting through on the English side! And not exactly the same cross-gender sport that appears on the English search engine!

Image 2 of 18In Arabic, on the other hand, every picture that comes up is of scantily-clad women, most of whom are lustfully staring into whatever camera took their picture. Overt connotations of disgrace, void of the grace pirouetting through on the English side! And not exactly the same cross-gender sport that appears on the English search engine!

3

For English-speakers, the word magic evokes party tricks, wands, and pixie dust - and that’s about what we get when we search for “magic” in English. To put it simply: Magic is mysterious and mischievous!

Image 3 of 18For English-speakers, the word magic evokes party tricks, wands, and pixie dust - and that’s about what we get when we search for “magic” in English. To put it simply: Magic is mysterious and mischievous!

4

Welcome to the dark side: Magic still evokes the mysterious in our Arabic search, but it might not be quite as fun… We’re not exactly sure what the creepy notes with the ashes might bring about, but the image of a doll impaled with pins might give you an idea!

Image 4 of 18Welcome to the dark side: Magic still evokes the mysterious in our Arabic search, but it might not be quite as fun… We’re not exactly sure what the creepy notes with the ashes might bring about, but the image of a doll impaled with pins might give you an idea!

5

It probably comes as no surprise that an English google search for terrorism gets you pictures of militants holding AK47s and the atrocities they commit (and maybe a spot on an FBI watchlist or two)...

Image 5 of 18It probably comes as no surprise that an English google search for terrorism gets you pictures of militants holding AK47s and the atrocities they commit (and maybe a spot on an FBI watchlist or two)...

6

... but maybe you’ll be surprised - and relieved - to learn that Arabic google gives us more of the same. Our favorite difference between the two searches? A picture captioned in Arabic with the words “Terrorism has no religion”. Turns out we’re all equally appalled at the phenomena.

Image 6 of 18... but maybe you’ll be surprised - and relieved - to learn that Arabic google gives us more of the same. Our favorite difference between the two searches? A picture captioned in Arabic with the words “Terrorism has no religion”. Turns out we’re all equally appalled at the phenomena.

7

“Modesty” - according to English Google  - is a woman wearing a dress that comes down to at least her knees and shows no cleavage. Showing skin? That’s fine, but we're not crossing over into the suggestive or seductive. In comparison with some of the more risque facets of Western fashion, these results likely appear modest to most Westerners.

Image 7 of 18“Modesty” - according to English Google - is a woman wearing a dress that comes down to at least her knees and shows no cleavage. Showing skin? That’s fine, but we're not crossing over into the suggestive or seductive. In comparison with some of the more risque facets of Western fashion, these results likely appear modest to most Westerners.

8

Our Arabic search reveals how cultures can differ in their appreciation of modesty. While some outfits are more form-fitting than others, each model wears the “Jilbab” (cloak) popular among conservative Muslim women, and not one model shows her hair. Interestingly, neither search gives us an idea of what “modesty” might look like for men.

Image 8 of 18Our Arabic search reveals how cultures can differ in their appreciation of modesty. While some outfits are more form-fitting than others, each model wears the “Jilbab” (cloak) popular among conservative Muslim women, and not one model shows her hair. Interestingly, neither search gives us an idea of what “modesty” might look like for men.

9

The word “fight” might evoke images of a drunken brawl, but its role in many cultures can also be recreational, with boxing and martial arts being popular and well-known sporting activities. Our search reflects this, showing a fight as either a sport or an organized contest between two parties.

Image 9 of 18The word “fight” might evoke images of a drunken brawl, but its role in many cultures can also be recreational, with boxing and martial arts being popular and well-known sporting activities. Our search reflects this, showing a fight as either a sport or an organized contest between two parties.

10

A fight is not quite as organized as far as Google Arabic is concerned. 8 out of the first 10 images displayed show total chaos on the streets as combatants draw clubs and take swipes at one another – a real brawl. Even images of a one-on-one fight appear unorganized, (this is no duel at dawn!) with two men trying to choke and kick one another.

Image 10 of 18A fight is not quite as organized as far as Google Arabic is concerned. 8 out of the first 10 images displayed show total chaos on the streets as combatants draw clubs and take swipes at one another – a real brawl. Even images of a one-on-one fight appear unorganized, (this is no duel at dawn!) with two men trying to choke and kick one another.

11

Homosexuality is a hot-button topic in almost every corner of the world, so how could we pass up the opportunity to add it to our show? An English Google search brings up images about as stereotypical as they cum - from ripped men making out at pride festivals to Republicans swallowing corndogs - and only the first page in our gay old selection.

Image 11 of 18Homosexuality is a hot-button topic in almost every corner of the world, so how could we pass up the opportunity to add it to our show? An English Google search brings up images about as stereotypical as they cum - from ripped men making out at pride festivals to Republicans swallowing corndogs - and only the first page in our gay old selection.

12

Arabic has many words to describe homosexuality. Even the most 'straight' of the terms pulls up a whole rainbow of visuals. From the uplifting gay pride banners, to the confusing (is that a monkey riding on the Ayatollah's back?); and an un-ironic fatwa-inspired 'strike-out' of the Gap clothes giant, spelling the label out as 'Gay And Proud'.

Image 12 of 18Arabic has many words to describe homosexuality. Even the most 'straight' of the terms pulls up a whole rainbow of visuals. From the uplifting gay pride banners, to the confusing (is that a monkey riding on the Ayatollah's back?); and an un-ironic fatwa-inspired 'strike-out' of the Gap clothes giant, spelling the label out as "Gay And Proud".

13

In keeping with the trend of removing Arabic speakers from planes and fundamentally misinterpreting Islam, the English Google search for Allahu Akbar (God is Greater) takes us down a deep rabbit hole of war-cry stereotypes and perplexing memes. How perplexing? We think the picture of Osama Bin Laden smoking a joint speaks for itself.

Image 13 of 18In keeping with the trend of removing Arabic speakers from planes and fundamentally misinterpreting Islam, the English Google search for Allahu Akbar (God is Greater) takes us down a deep rabbit hole of war-cry stereotypes and perplexing memes. How perplexing? We think the picture of Osama Bin Laden smoking a joint speaks for itself.

14

Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “God is Greater”. For Muslims, it’s a phrase uttered in prayer and in the face of events both wonderful or terrible - that is to say, it’s as regular as 'Oh my God!' in English. That probably explains why every picture in our Arabic search is merely the words “God is Greater” in various forms of calligraphy.

Image 14 of 18Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “God is Greater”. For Muslims, it’s a phrase uttered in prayer and in the face of events both wonderful or terrible - that is to say, it’s as regular as "Oh my God!" in English. That probably explains why every picture in our Arabic search is merely the words “God is Greater” in various forms of calligraphy.

15

In English, a search for maid comes up with the same thrust: A sexy, hardly-clothed woman often holding a feather duster suggestively. In fact, most of these images aren’t even maids at work - they’re costumes sold by “adult” websites!

Image 15 of 18In English, a search for maid comes up with the same thrust: A sexy, hardly-clothed woman often holding a feather duster suggestively. In fact, most of these images aren’t even maids at work - they’re costumes sold by “adult” websites!

16

In many parts of the Arab world, the maid elicits different, utilitarian and entirely non-sexual imagery. A maid is often hired help of Southeast Asian origins imported to the Middle East to work as a housekeeper. It does not appear to evoke the same sexual fantasies in Arabic as it does in English, and if anything borders on racist notions.

Image 16 of 18In many parts of the Arab world, the maid elicits different, utilitarian and entirely non-sexual imagery. A maid is often hired help of Southeast Asian origins imported to the Middle East to work as a housekeeper. It does not appear to evoke the same sexual fantasies in Arabic as it does in English, and if anything borders on racist notions.

17

Silicon seems like a safe search, right? The rare-earth material found in all of our smartphones and computers appears on English google as the raw element.

Image 17 of 18Silicon seems like a safe search, right? The rare-earth material found in all of our smartphones and computers appears on English google as the raw element.

18

As opposed to Arabic, where it’s all, well… breast implants. Turn on safesearch for this titillating ride folks!

Image 18 of 18As opposed to Arabic, where it’s all, well… breast implants. Turn on safesearch for this titillating ride folks!

Reduce

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