You understand Punjabi perfectly well, but cannot read Gurmukhi, or are fluent in Bengali but cannot read Bangla, and ditto for English. Well, despair not. An app is here to help you read your preferred text, transliterated in the language of your choice.
The readmylanguage.com app is designed to overcome such reading problems, including among children. With the app, which can be installed on computers or on smartphones, a person can easily read a Punjabi newspaper transliterated in the Devanagri, or Hindi, script or even English.
The app is presently available in a combination of 12 Indian languages - including Hindi, Bengali, Gurmukhi, Gujarati, Urdu, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, as well as English
The app can be used for any online content, like newspapers, e-books, websites in regional languages and government circulars and documents. "We are in talks with the Gujarat Vidyapeeth to bring out books in the Devanagri script transliterated in Gujarati through the app," Rajiv Nag, Chief Facilitator, readmylanguage.com, told IANS
"They will use our app and use it to do the transliteration," said Nag, also CEO Innovative Apps Pvt Ltd, that has developed the app. The app can also be used for offline versions that would be useful in the publishing industry, says Nag. Publishers could provide the app to readers for an additional sum of money.
The company is in talks with several universities and schools and is providing the app to students for Rs 200 ($3). "In Madhya Pradesh, we have sold the online school version to over 10,000 students," said Nag, adding that in Google Playstore the app costs $20.
The app, including the school version, comes with an option to get meanings of words, and also connotations. A student while reading an English text in Devnagari or Gujarati or Bengali script can easily go to the 'meanings' button to get the meaning of big words.
According to Nag, a major advantage of transliteration is that it helps in learning the language. He says many of the teachers in Madhya Pradesh schools where the app is being used have come out with favourable reports on the improvement in English among the children.
"Students in Tier II or III towns know a smattering of English. This app will help them improve their knowledge of English and also encourage them to read the language seamlessly," he added.
The app for students provides short stories, especially on the Panchatantra and Mahabharata, for Classes 4, 5, 6. "The students are able to relate to it. We also have questions and answers at the bottom to help the students."
The app, while providing the transliterated version on the right, also keeps the original text on the left, so that the reader can go back to the original if needed. This is aimed to make the student or reader more fluent in the language, he added.
Nag says many students in Madhya Pradesh where the app for reading English is in use have confirmed that their knowledge of the language has improved. The app is being used by students in several schools in Guna, Madhya Pradesh, and in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.
The company has a 12-member technical team including language testers based in Bengaluru, Baroda, Kolkata and Delhi. The Kolkata team works on the Assamese, Bangla, Oriya and Urdu languages, while the Delhi team works on the Hindi, and Punjabi language, he said.
The app will be brought out in printer friendly mode soon, in accordance with e-pub standards, said Nag. The app can work with texts in HTML, MS Word and BFF (Binary File Format) and do the conversion. The app can be used to read novels and books available in soft copy.
The newspaper industry is a big market which they are hoping to tap. The team is in touch with several newspapers, he said. The app would be useful in reading any website, including government websites, he added.
Asked if it could be used on Kindle, Nag said that the Kindle technology is not in sync with others, and unless Kindle allows them access to their technology they would not be able to provide the app.