Technology for Conserving Language: Presented at Kannada Sahitya Sammelana

81th Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (Jan 31st – 3rd Feb) happening here in Shravana Belagola, Hasana District, Karnataka. I was fortunate to have got invited to talk about Information technology for Language chaired by Dr. Chidananda Gowda. Dr. U.B Pavanaja and Ram Prakash H from Tachyon Technologies (Quillpad) presented on Kannada Wikipedia and Kannada OCR respectively.

In-spite of unavailability of technology solutions such as projector, internet connectivity etc., I could say we did our best to explain how technology can make difference to the way we look at language and how we can work together to save from reaching extinction.

Here are my slides in which I have tried to explain challenges of Kannada Language survival and solutions explored, invented and developed by few of us. First few slides talk about the carvings found in our ancient sculptures and how Kannada Computing Expert Shri K.P Rao’s Kadamba & Chalukya Fonts helping us to be able to continue researching on these. His work around ‘Apara‘ font which helps the non-kannadiga’s or those who cannot read Kannada scripts to read Kannada in their own language was also an highlight.

Inaccessible sources of data, government websites, libraries and physical status of many archives across country were the source of inspiration to think of mirroring our literary treasure on Internet. Kannada Sanchaya projects such as Vachana Sanchaya, Samooha Sanchaya, Pustaka Sanchaya and others were highlighted to showcase why we need to ensure that the literature should be made available in internet using Unicode and other standards to enable the researchers, students and also common people to experience and continue researching on it forever.

I spoke about the support we got from FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and Free Culture which made the work around Kannada Sanchaya, Wikipedia etc. possible. I also recalled how FOSS helped us make digital libraries reachable/usable to common man. Samooha sanchaya had just done over a week to complete its first milestone of having transliterated 2252 books and the same books can be searched at http://pustaka.sanchaya.net directly in Kannada. “Fuel Project‘ (FUEL – Frequently used entries for localization) which helps us get the community consensus to standardize the localization efforts for language was mentioned how FOSS communities can set standards and also ensure the language projects can take the best out of the resources.

Mobile solutions built by many Kannada IT professionals, Google Transliteration and Guesture search app capability of identifying Kannada on Android, Mozilla Firefox browser and Firefox OS phone were also the highlights of my talk to help understand where we stand today with mobile technology. Also the work that needs more attention here on.

My talk ended with a highlight on the Open Knowledge initiatives, Wikipedia Contributions, Books re-licensed under creative commons by Government of Karnataka’s Cultural department, Niranrajan’s works by Tejaswini Niranjana, and Mysore University etc.

Kannada should never be on endangered language list and It is possible for us to enrich the language for next generation through knowledge sharing, collaboration and by motivating each other by acting responsibly.

Here are my slides in Kannada. Hope I have tried my best to summarize the entire talk in English for my other friends who can’t read and understand Kannada. I shall make my talk transcript available online shortly.

Thank you,