Saturday, February 9, 2008

Interesting technology

While languishing on my couch and poking around blogger, I found something interesting. Check out this feature of Blogger: Hindi transliteration. I'd seen something about that in the settings somewhere, but never really paid any attention to it. How does it work, you ask? (Ok, maybe you didn't, but I'm going to pretend you did and answer anyway!) Pretty cool: you type phonetically in English (Roman) characters, and (when you press space or some punctuation) it changes into the correct Hindi characters to "write" the word you've just "spoken" onto your blog compose screen. Now, how cool is that? This type of technology would be excellent for a variety of languages: Cyrillic-based (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.; Eastern European/Asian and so forth), Chinese/Japanese/other Asian languages with similar character sets, Hebrew, Greek, etc. Basically, any language which uses characters other than the typical Roman character set we find on our English keyboards. How long before this "transliteration" is available for more languages (maybe it already is)? How long before it becomes part of other software packages?

Where I work we sometimes deal with Cyrillic languages (or sometimes Japanese or similar Asian fonts). Our documentation lady has a "keyboard mapping" to help with her typing of the other language documents. Now, if she were able to speak the language, she would be able to simply type the phonetic pronunciation of the words, and they would automatically be translated into the other language. For her it probably wouldn't be that helpful, since I don't think she speaks any of these languages, but for other people it could be. With this transliteration feature (which is not the same as translation - with translation, it tries to change English words into foreign words; with transliteration, it changes word sounds into the correct spelling), you wouldn't need to remember keyboard mappings, or have a virtual keyboard, or whatever else, to help you type - you'd just type what you'd speak and the transliteration software does the typing in the other language for you (it would still help to know the char's in order to be able to determine if it's made the correct word selection and, if not, to select the correct word from a list).

I also came across Twitter - don't really know what it's about, but it might be something neat. I'm going to check it out when I'm feeling up to it...

No comments: