CLiCKing to a new Malayalam

After almost half a century since the formation of the State of Kerala on linguistic basis, Malayalam is becoming the administrative language in all the Government offices.

Headway is being made in this direction, thanks to the efforts of some of the agencies of the Government. With office automation also gaining momentum alongside, it has come to be accepted that much needs to be done in making Malayalam language compatible to the Internet.

The pioneering efforts of the Centre for the Development of Imaging Technology (C-DiT), in this area have by and large come to be recognised by all concerned.

The Centre for Linguistic Computing- Keralam (CLiCK), an agency formed by the C-DiT, functioning under the Government, has drawn up a project for the integration of Malayalam and Information Technology that might seem to be strange partners! But they will soon be partners in progress, of the State and its official language. In fact, the CLiCK is a joint venture project of the C-DiT, the State IT Mission and the Department of Linguistics of the University of Kerala, aimed at the localisation of technology.

Taking a cue from the experience of Japan and China, where their respective local languages have been made use of for accessing the net, the CLiCK is already into making Malayalam capable of entering the cyber space where English, undoubtedly, is the dominant language.

A search engine in Malayalam will soon come to replace `Google'. The standardisation of the Malayalam keyboard will also be completed by then. However, problems like the absence of uniformity and lack of compatibility for Malayalam alphabets will need to be addressed in the mean time.

Among those benefiting by the initiatives in this area, it is expected, will be the 33-lakh second generation non-resident Keralites. Malayalam, despite being their mother tongue, is not very familiar to most of them. Those genuinely interested in learning the language can make use of the services of this project.

It is for them that the programme `Ente Malayalam, Ente Abhimanam' (My Malayalam, My Pride), is being designed by the CLiCK.

Malayalam computing has immense possibilities. To make the best use of them, continuous and intensive research needs to be undertaken into the form of Malayalam alphabets, formation of the words and the construction of sentences.

Localisation of technology, it is believed, can do wonders. But it is all the more complex too, as those behind CLiCK would themselves admit.

By Ajeth Kumar J