Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gmail now in Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam

Gmail is the latest addition to the Google's services(Google Search, Orkut, Blogger), which provides transliteration option for Indian Languages. Now you can compose your mails in Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu or Malayalam by clicking icon showing an Indian language character in formatting options bar.
To enable this feature,
1.Go to Settings, at the top of gmail window
2.Go to General tab
3.Check the Enable Transliteration checkbox
4.Select the default transliteration language
Problem with Google Transliteration: Google transliteration has some inherent flaws in its coversion of English letters to Indic. What I have observed when typing Kannada using Google transliteration is that, there is inconsistent transliteration of vowels and consonants of Indian languages written in English script. Following are the examples to illustrate the problem in Google transliteration. I have compared this with the transliteration provided by Baraha software.

1.Google - nenapidi - ನೆನಪಿಡಿ
Baraha - nenapidi - ನೆನಪಿಡಿ
Here 'i' is interpreted as 'ಇ' by Google transliteration

But in another case,
Google - ramaNiya - ರಮಣೀಯ
Baraha - ramaNiya - ರಮಣಿಯ
Here 'i' is interpreted as 'ಈ' by Google transliteration
But in both cases, Baraha interprets 'i' as 'ಇ'

2.Google - kaDDaaya - ಕಡ್ಡಾಯ
Baraha - kaDDaaya - ಕಡ್ಡಾಯ
Here 'D' is interpreted as 'ಡ' by Google transliteration

But in other situation,
Google - ODu - ಓದು
Baraha - ODu - ಓಡು
Here 'D' is interpreted as 'ದ' by Google transliteration
But in both cases, Baraha interprets 'D' as 'ಡ'

Note that in Google transliteration you can change to the required vowel/consonant when you do a backspace on the word just transliterated. This time google provides pop down list of optional transliterated words to choose from. But doing this most of the time can be a tedious task and sometimes, you dont get the word you are looking for in the pop down list. On the positive note, one can notice that google transliteration is trying to provide a transliterated word, which is most commonly used or which is in the dictionary of that language. This is similar to the technique which is commonly used in typing messages in mobile phones(known as the iTap or T9 word prediction technology). But unlike English, in case of Indian languages what you speak is what you write. There is no difference between the way you write and pronounce as in English. So, I still prefer baraha to type in Kannada and then paste the unicode text in the applications, I am using.

Google, are you listening?



  1. Yes I agree, Google way of transliterating phonetic English to Kannada is not as good as Baraha. They need to change!

  2. I think while Baraha follows a fixed pattern for translation (Du=ಡು du=ದು), Google seems to have a habit of recommending popular or most correct usage.

    ರಮಣೀಯ is correct and ರಮಣಿಯ is wrong. So though you typed i instead of I, google thinks it should be accommodative of possible user errors and recommend most correct/popular usage- at least I think so.

    A fixed pattern is good for those who are regulars, know what they are typing and are habituated to keys, while Google can be convenient to some, who prefer to type in a quick reply. Quillpad also uses similar way.

  3. Hi Nidhi,

    I have mentioned that Google indicates the most used word or the word which is in dictionary of that language. But that can not ensure always what the user wants and there can be more than one popular words for the same transliteration. Like in case of transliterating 'ODu' - ಓಡು, ಓದು both are possible as they are commonly/most used. So there is ambiguity here, which I would not prefer.

    Also, regarding the comment "ರಮಣೀಯ is correct and ರಮಣಿಯ is wrong". ರಮಣಿಯ may not be right as a single word. But if used in a phrase/sentence it is appropriate and correct, as in - ಕನ್ನಡ ನಾಡಿನ ವೀರ ರಮಣಿಯ
    ಗ೦ಡು ಭೂಮಿಯ ವೀರ ನಾರಿಯ
    ಚರಿತೆಯ ನಾನು ಹಾಡುವೆ.


  4. ok ok ಜೈ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಮಾತೆ!

    Also pavanaja was telling us the other day companies like Google are not getting authoritative info as to which is right and which is wrong for certain key confusions

  5. ಇದು ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ತುಂಬಾ ಉತ್ತಮ ರೀತಿಯ ಸಾಧನೆ.

    ಮಂಜುನಾಥ ಸಿ.



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