transliteration-bookmarkletGoogle India has introduced language transliteration bookmarklets for 5 Indian languages: Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil & Telugu.

I’ve seen instances of people typing out their e-mails at the Transliteration page, and then copy-pasting the text in their email. With bookmarklets, this will no longer be necessary, and users can type in Indic languages on any website. 

The bookmarklets currently work for Chrome (version 2 and above), Safari (version 4 and above), Internet Explorer (version 6 and above) and Firefox (version 3 and above).

While this is a feature that may get restricted to more tech savvy, it does make it ridiculously easy to type in local languages in any website. Over time, this will help increase both content creation and communication in Indian languages.

Do note that Google provides transliteration on its website in other South Asian languages – Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi and Nepali, for which this feature has not been launched. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if bookmarkets in these languages are launched soon.

How It Works

A Bookmarklet is a small browser based application that is stored as a link in your bookmarks folder, or bookmarks toolbar. Users can drag the following links to their bookmarks toolbar:

– [ع Type in Arabic]
– [अ Type in Hindi]
– [ಅ Type in Kannada]
– [അ Type in Malayalam]
– [அ Type in Tamil]
–  [అ Type in Telugu]

When you visit a site, say, Twitter or Facebook, you just have to click on the relevant bookmarket link in your bookmarks toolbar, and the application will allow you to type in the language that you have bookmarked. In order to de-activate the feature, just click on the link again. The bookmarklets can also be to add content to Wikipedia.

More details here.

Other Transliteration Initiatives

Google has added the transliteration feature to several Google products like BloggerKnolOrkutGmail and iGoogle, and has also released an API that lets sites embe the transliteration technology at no cost. Our coverage of digital Indic language developments here.

Why Is Google Investing In Indic Language Products?

It’s in Google’s interest to see a proliferation of local Indian and South Asian content on the Internet – the more people communicate and create local language content, the more the propensity to use Google’s services; hence, more the opportunity for monetization for Google. Indic language content and communication is key to the continued growth of the Internet in India – not everyone is bilingual, not everyone understands English, and hence, not everyone can use Google products in English.

As the propensity to use these products increases, it allows Google the opportunity (eventually) to bring small advertisers on board – particularly those who can advertise in Indic languages. Language, becomes another context, and another feature for targeted advertising.

The investment being made now in this space, is one for the long term, and for supporting continued growth of Google’s business in India.