Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sending Hindi in Devanagari Script over SMS

Efficient communication between the majority of Indians requires the use of Indian languages. It is not currently easy, whether it is over the Internet or over the cellular network. We have to research on and develop easier ways of using Indian languages. One simple approach I describe here deals with only one aspect of the problem. My hope is that this will still stimulate the reader to investigate problems that a user faces when using a browser on the web or text over cell phones. There are a variety of technical problems there. You may wish to start your exploration by visiting
This posting refers to a Nokia manual
I have not tried communicating with Nokia using @NokiaIndia on Twitter
or through their blog
but you may wish to do that.
Can we invent superior interfaces for the Indian language user? I believe that an interesting approach is to use letters of the Roman Script one way or another. I would like to share what I have learnt from my experiments in this direction.
I had begun by asking myself how I could help Indian high school students learning English by giving hints and information in Hindi. I do believe that this is necessary when helping Hindi speaking students over a cell-phone channel.
I found that most cell phones in use in urban areas in India do not support sending and receiving Hindi SMS in any simple manner. I consulted an experienced technical support person in a big shop and was advised to buy a separate cell phone for the purpose. I bought one and found that I could post tweets on my Twitter page, using Hindi words in Devanagari script along with English words. I thought that my students who follow me on Twitter through their cellphones will receive my tweets properly. No, they did not! I discovered that cell-phone service providers filter incoming tweets in such a way that filters out Unicode characters of the Devanagari script.
I am going to consult Twitter in India (visit!/twi/ )
What is the solution? I am now using the Roman Script to write out Hindi words using a simple and informal transliteration scheme (see “Devanagari Transliteration” in Wikipedia). This seems to work quite well.
Srinivasan Ramani  

No comments: