Here comes Google’s latest baby – Google Transliteration IME (Input Method Editor) – a freeware tool that allows you to attain mastery of typing 14 different languages including Indian scripts such as Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.
What makes the job easier is the phoenetic transliteration feature that allows one to type in any of these languages using a roman keyboard.
Users can type a word the way it sounds using Latin characters and Google Transliteration IME will convert the word to its native script.
This is very different from translation – which is conversion of a word or sentence from one language to another while keeping the meaning intact. With transliteration one converts the sound of words from one alphabet to another.
Earlier on, I had reviewed two very useful transliteration tools – Avro Keyboard and QuillPad. While both these tools are superb at their respective tasks, they suffer certain limitations. Avro Keyboard – a desktop application, was designed to type only Bengali. QuillPad supports multiple languages – but one has to be online to be able to use their editor.
Google IME is an offline application that transcends these boundaries by providing support for a multitude of languages without being dependent on internet connectivity. The application sports extremely useful features like dictionary support for completion for common and rare words, personalized correction memory, typographic customizations, quick web search etc. A full list of features is available on the Google IME page.
Once installed the IME can be fired up via the Language bar or through shortcut keys. It manifests itself in the form of a small floating band (status window) at the bottom right corner of your screen. The leftmost icon denotes the application itself and doubles up as a dragging handle. The second icon represents the input language and can be used to switch back and forth between it and English. The third one is used to launch a virtual keyboard while the last one brings up the application menu.
Once you start typing in your favourite editor, a small suggestions window pops-up displaying completion lists based a customizable dictionary which allows addition of new words in case none of the suggestions match with what you want. The correction memory keeps a note of this and next time you start typing in the same sequence of letters, your preferred word will be shown at the top of the list.
The virtual keyboard is mighty useful too and comes to your aid when you just can’t dig up the correct sequence of keystrokes required – specially in the case of complex joint characters – for a successful transliteration.
As of now Google IME only supports 32-bit Windows 7/Vista/XP. For other platforms, there’s always the online Google Indic transliteration tool. One drawback is that the supported languages are not bundled in together and need to be downloaded individually – as per your requirement. This helps keep the baggage at a bare minimum, though!
So… how about you grab a copy of Google IME and run down your experience by me.