IIT prof writes one script to unify 22 languages

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Yusuf, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    CHENNAI: India has 22 official languages. Schools teach in 58 different languages. There are newspapers in 87 languages. And, about a dozen major scripts are used to communicate in these languages.

    Though the country once boasted about this linguistic complexity, people have since found that it poses barriers to effective communication.

    An ideal situation would be the use of a single language across India, but researchers feel that it is too ambitious a project. "There are impossible difficulties to creating a unified language in India, not least because of the huge emotional component," said V Srinivas Chakravarthy, an IIT-Madras professor. A simpler goal would be to figure out a unified script that can convey information in all Indian languages, said the professor of biotechnology, whose work spans computational neuroscience and pattern recognition.

    Chakravarthy has drawn up one such script that he calls Bharati, which can be used for regular writing and can be learnt easily. "Anyone who knows one of the major Indian scripts can learn Bharati script in an hour," said Chakravarthy, who has applied for a patent for the Bharati script.

    Most Indian alphabet systems are organised as vowels and consonants; Bharati follows this pattern without the elaborate flourish. The script combines the simplest features of several existing scripts to come up with a new one that is logical and simple.

    Chakravarthy said English is arbitrary. "There is no logic to why A comes first and Z last. Indian scripts are logical," he said. "But, they are also unreasonably complicated and ornate."

    For instance, he said, the long form of the alphabet that makes the sound 'ah' in the Devanagiri/Hindi script is written by adding a vertical bar to produce the sound 'aah'. The long form of the alphabet making the sound 'e' is written by adding a hook to make the 'ee' sound.

    "Why should we have so many different conventions just to denote the long version of a vowel?" said Chakravarthy. He studied these inconsistencies and made sure that the Bharati alphabets follow a consistent design.

    Experts welcome the initiative, saying Indian languages had a lot of shared words. "It's a good attempt that can bring people together. But, whether people, politicians or teachers like me will let it happen is a different thing," said S C Chaudhary, member of the Indian Linguistic Association in Pune. He hoped that the effort would put an end to the domination of English, which is threatening to overtake all other languages.

    Awadesh Kumar Mishra, director of Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore, said such a script would be useful for the average Indian, who is likely to know just one language. The Technology Development for Indian Languages programme, initiated by the ministry of communication and information technology, is making a similar attempt to facilitate human-machine interaction without a language barrier, he said.

    Chakravarthy's script has immediate application in signs, especially at tourist attractions. Bharati can be developed into an online handwriting recognition system for Indian languages on smartphones and PDAs because it can be used to help develop better algorithms to recognise all languages.

  3. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2012
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    Is the script published anywhere?
  4. dhananjay1

    dhananjay1 Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2013
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    Why create a new script, Devanaagari is already readable by majority of the Indians.
  5. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA
    Should be as successful as Esperanto.

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