Google announced on December 17, 2009 an online transliteration tool that enables users to type phonetically in Roman characters to generate vernacular scripts in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. This tool is embedded in Google products like gmail, but they have also provided bookmarklets for each language that let you type in any text box on any web site. For example, you can search Google News or send messages on social networks.
Users may need to enable complex script layout support or install Unicode fonts. It appears that knowledge of standard romanization schemas are not necessary; Google provides dictionary lookup and tables of individual characters to select from.
Long term, if Google's vision of cloud computing for all document creation and publication is realized and more languages are added to the tool, users will no longer have to install and master specialized fonts or keyboards.
In our online catalog, Emory libraries use the romanization tables standardized by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress, but we are installing a unicode-compatible software platform to enable direct entry and display of vernacular scripts. Meanwhile, the Emory Libraries discoverE interface, because it is unicode-compliant, will display some vernacular scripts, esp. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian if encoded that way in the EUCLID record. The ability in library catalogs to encode vernacular script in parallel to roman script is only a few years old. Most other vernaculars taught at Emory, such as Sanskrit and Hindi, or earlier catalog records for any language are displayed in standard roman transcription with diacritics. A fully unicode-compliant platform for EUCLID could be ready by late 2010. And the ALA is developing standards for data entry and display of multi-script bibliographic records for more languages. In any case, probably only new records will be script-enabled; accurate conversion of pre-existing records may be cost prohibitive.
Here is the Google announcement:
"Most of us use a keyboard to enter text; it's one of the most basic activities we perform on a computer. However even this simple activity can be cumbersome in many parts of the world. If you've ever tried to type in a non-Roman script using a Roman keyboard, you know that it can be difficult to do. Many of us at Google's Bangalore office experienced this problem firsthand. Roman keyboards are the norm in India, making it difficult to type in Indian languages. We decided to tackle this problem by making it very easy to type phonetically using Roman characters and we launched this service as Google Transliteration. ...."
Read more in the Official Google Blog.
Submitted by Tim Bryson, South Asia and Religious Studies Librarian, December 17, 2009.
In the Blog
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- Poetry as Conversation: Recent Additions to the Anthony Hecht Papers
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