Friday, March 09, 2012

Transliterate when it grows your audience

The Chinese and the Serbian Wikipedia have one thing in common; their content is shown in one of the two scripts you can select from. In essence the process is simple; you change a text from one to another script using a fixed set of rules and the only difference is the script of the language. You do not change the orthography it should be just other characters saying the same thing.

Understanding this is quite important because transliteration is not to accommodate differences in dialects. Far from it. When dialects are expressed in the same script, the differences become easier to understand when there is no longer any confusion because of the different scripts.

The "InScript" input methods exist for the scripts of India. What makes them special is that the same sounds are placed at the same location. This makes typing in different scripts easy. This gives the impression that it should be relatively easy to transliterate between scripts.

Changing scripts for a text is of relevance for Sanskrit. Sanskrit is written in many scripts and when a text originated in a script different from Devanagari, many readers of such an original text are helped with a transliteration into a script they are familiar with. At the same time it helps people appreciate how broad a cultural base the Sanskrit language has.

When transliteration works for Sanskrit, it is likely that the same or similar routines will work well for languages like Konkani. At Silpa there is a tool where you can test transliteration. It is a work in progress; each script has many features that need attention.Custom logic need to be written sometimes for script pairs, sometimes for specific language attributes.

What would be cool is when someone works on this existing code for the transliteration of Indian scripts. It needs more work both on script specific rules and on languages specific rules.
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