Google IME: Typing Indian languages made super easy

Typewriter KeysHere 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.

Google IME: Status WindowOnce 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.

Google IME: Suggestions

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.

Google IME - Virtual Keyboard

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.

[via The Official Google India Blog]

QuillPad – Taking English to Indic Transliteration one step ahead

Red PenFor those who have read my earlier posts on Avro Keyboard and Google’s Inidc Transliteration service, here comes a pleasant surprise for you. Tachyon Technologies – an Indian software firm brings to you QuillPad, a really advanced online (and free) English to Indic transliteration tool.

The interface is pretty similar to Google’s Indic Transliteration page. You have this text-box where you key in words of the Indic language of your choice using English (based on the phoenetics of the word) and they instantaneously get converted to words in the corresponding script. Where you’re unsure about how to spell a word in English, Google offers you pop-up suggestions. QuillPad takes this one step further by automatically inserting words that come closest (spelling-wise) to the words you’re trying to type. There’s probably a pretty powerful dictionary search algorithm working silently behind the scene. And then there are the pop-ups too, in case their auto-spelling mechanism cannot spot the right word for you.

Lets take for example, the word ?????¸ which means things or stuff. This would be spelt as jinis in English. Minus the ‘s’, the word would spell as jini (or যিনি) which means who. As long as you’ve typed up to jini, the transliteration tool spells out who, starting with a য. The moment you add the ‘s’ at the end, the য gets magically transformed into the correct জ. This means that you don’t need to follow any hard and fast transliteration rules. You can fire away at the keyboard in a totally casual way and yet come out with a document that gets a perfect A for spelling.

Another cool feature of QuillPad is automatic transliteration of common English words that have migrated to the Indic vocabulary. A sizeable bunch of English words are found in our colloquial tongue and for many of them there aren’t any counterparts in the Indic languages to convey the correct connotation. Such words are used as they are. With QuillPad in action, you won’t have to grope around to figure out the correct phoenetics. The AI engine automatically does that for you.

QuillPad supports a large selection of Indic languages. That includes Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali & Gujarati. QuillPad also supplies the engine that powers Rediffmail and Rediff Bol.

If you own a site in any of the major Indian languages, QuillPad may be able to help you out on the Searh end. They offer a Indic Search Widget for websites which sure can come in handy.

All in all, this is one awesome example of coding that needs to be checked out immediately.