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Monday, April 6, 2015

Yahoo transliteration service to close down !!

We spend many hours daily on the web ~ what services do you use – besides the search engines, Social media like – FB; transactions Online – be it banking or purchases – what else do you use most ? – do you use the utilities of translation and transliteration ??

To a casual Q – which languages do you know…. pat came the reply : Basic, Cobol, C, C++, Java, Pascal, Python……… and to the Q – what is your mother tongue – ‘lengthy’……. !!!!!!!  ~ ‘mozhi’ in Tamil means language…. 

There are languages which have gone out of vogue as none speak them… some are feared that sooner they would cease to exist….. The communication amongst humans is through language – a complex system of communication. There are thousands of languages – not all are written as some are only spoken.  Our past is embedded in the words we speak, and the stories we tell and sometimes write down. Yet UNESCO estimates that, if nothing changes, half of the 6,000 tongues spoken on the planet today will be gone by the end of this century, and with them, embedded history. A language is considered nearly extinct when only a few native speakers use it and it’s no longer being taught to children, which means, if nothing changes, they are doomed to disappear. Unlike trees, whose genes can be conserved in seed banks, or animals that can be bred in captivity, language is so intangible it can only survive if people speak it. 

Yahoo would need no elaboration.  Yahoo Inc. (stylized Yahoo!) is an American multinational Internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. It is globally known for its Web portal, search engine Yahoo Search, and related services, including Yahoo Directory, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Groups, Yahoo Answers, advertising, online mapping, video sharing, fantasy sports and its social media website.  Yahoo was founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo in January 1994 ; incorporated in Mar 1995. Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, serves as CEO and President of the company.

In every language, whether people should ‘translate or transliterate’ could be an unending debate and challenge.  i.e., when you write in Tamil, whether you should represent the word as it or find a Tamil equivalent for that specific word, especially for technical terms.  Somewhere read ‘úppi’[capable of inflating] for balloon; felt writing it as ‘baloon’ in Tamil would be more intelligible. 

We do use transliteration software - Transliteration is the conversion of a text from one script to another.  For example – “ kerosene ” is  மண் எண்ணைய்  [mun ennai] when translated; since the word is too well known, one can transliterate and use too.  Transliteration is not concerned with representing the sounds of the original, only the characters, ideally accurately and unambiguously. Thus in the example cited one might type ‘kiraseen’ to get an output of  கிரசீன் .

Systematic transliteration is a mapping from one system of writing into another.  For many script pairs, there is one or more standard transliteration systems. However, unsystematic transliteration is common.

Earlier  I was using Google transliteration ~in between shifted to ‘transliteration.yahoo.com’..... now the news is that this service will no longer be available from 9th April 2015.  According to Yahoo, they have decided to focus on core activities and are closing down this service.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th April 2015.


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