Google has expanded its Transliteration services to include five new languages, among them two subcontinental languages:  Oriya and Sinhalese. Apart from these two and Sanskrit, Google currently provides transliteraton for the following languages commonly spoken/written in the Indian subcontinent: BengaliGujaratiHindiKannadaMalayalamMarathiNepaliPunjabiTamilTeluguUrdu; 14 in all from the subcontinent, from 22 languages supported worldwide. I’m not sure, but this is probably the first instance of Oriya and Sinhalese being made available for transliteration.

We’ve requested Google for more data (hoping for a language Zeitgeist), because there clearly isn’t adequate information on the usage of Indic language tools in India. Their competitor in the transliteration space, Rediff funded Quillpad, which provides transliteration for 10 languages, publishes a weekly comparison chart:

Source: Quillpad

It’s important for there to be more information and greater discourse and debate (like the one here) on the language web, and the path that it is taking. I’ve mentioned before that we’re creating something of a monolingual digital cut-off, and it will hit the industry when audience/user growth stagnates. Rediff CEO Ajit Balakrishnan said at a conference last year:

“At around 50 million users you’ll come across the language barriers. What do we need to do? We need some policy initiatives, we need linguisting tools, voice to text needs to be funded by someone. These things take money; a grant of Rs. 4-5 crores (from the government).The present view is – let Google do it, Yahoo do it, Rediff do it, but it’s the wrong approach. Tech and tools need to be freely available. If one or two people do it, it doesnt become an industry. The Ministry of IT has an Annual Budget of Rs. 1000 crores.”