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Google Introduces Indian Language Transliteration In Gmail


Updated below

Google India has introduced Indic Language transliteration on Gmail and Google Apps. Transliteratoin allows people using an English language keyboard to type in the local language. Other companies that provide Indic transliteration include Quillpad from Tachyon Technologies, in which Rediff has 26% stake. Tachyon had powered Rediff’s Indic language capabilities.

I logged on to the MediaNama mail account on Google Apps this morning to find a small dropdown menu, allowing me to choose between the five languages that Google is currently providing transliteration for — Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.

In this context, to take look at the discussion around Rediff CEO Ajit Balakrishnan’s comment that readers may not want Indic language, based on low usage of Rediff’s Indic language email. 

Update: Works With Regular Gmail As Well

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I did not find the same enabled for my Gmail account, when I had initially logged in. I had to change the language preference to Hindi, which meant that my inbox was displayed in Hindi, for the same feature to be enabled. So what of users who prefer to communicate mostly in English, but would still like to type a few sentences in another language?

Rahul Roy-chowdhury of Google suggested that I try logging out of GMail, and then logging in – and it worked. 


I do think this will go down well with Hindi language journalists — at FICCI Frames earlier in Feb, I noticed a journalist from Dainik Jagran using the Indic Transliteration to type out his article in Hindi. Now, he can just type it out in his mailbox. 

What Next In The Indic Language Space?

We’d like to see transliteration added to Google Talk, Indic Language search extended to Google Blog Search.

While this initiative should be lauded, as should most of Google and Tachyons Indic language initiatives: they enable content creation in Indian languages, and we think content should preceed usage. At the same time, we wonder if transliteration will work for a large population that does not understand English – for them, one will need Indian language software and keyboards.

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Note: There’s an interesting conference on 21st Century India through Digital Content on the 2nd. I’m a part of the panel on Content Creation, Language Content and New Media Platforms. We’ll put up inputs from the discussion at MediaNama.

Related: Our Indic Languages Section

— IIIT To Launch Online Translation Tool Sampark In June
— Are Hindi News Channels Only Paying Lip Service To The Online Market?
— Economic Times Launches Gujarati Website
— Rediff To Allow Users To “Communicate” In 22 Indic Languages
— @ IGF: “Let Us Not Assume That Users Want Indian Languages”; PC Era Ended; Multilingual Standards, Voice Based Internet

(Update: edited to indicate that it works with regular Gmail as well, once users log out and log in again)

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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