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ICFOSS Standardizes Malayalam Use on Mobile Platforms, 2014): As a major step towards enabling Malayalam computing on mobile platforms, an ICFOSSinitiative to standardize the Malayalam translations of commonly used terms in mobile interface was launched by ICFOSS (International Centre For Free and Open Source Software) in association with Swathanthra Malayalam Computing (SMC) and The Frequently Used Entries for Localization (FUEL) Project. The initiative will greatly ease the creation of User Interface elements in mobile computing platforms including Android, Firefox OS and iPhone OS. 

One of the significant difficulties in adapting user interfaces into languages such as Malayalam is the lack of widely-accepted, uniform and consistent translations for terms that can be used by all mobile operating systems and platforms. The Frequently Used Entries for Localization (FUEL) Project attempted to create a uniform set of user interface elements in local languages for vernacular computing on Desktops.  

“This is the start of a structured set of efforts to prepare a similar translated glossary in multiple Indic languages for Mobile Platforms, which have different interface elements when compared to Desktop systems. A peer review Workshop, organized by ICFOSS, SMC and FUEL Project at Technopark, Trivandrum, carried out the translation of the first set of 500 terms. This was done as a part of the ongoing Govt of India-supported Android R&D project of ICFOSS.” Said ICFOSS Director Satish Babu.

There are numerous English terms used for different menu items and actions associated with mobile phones (such as ‘Bluetooth’, ‘swiping’, ‘location services’, ‘apps’, ‘tethering’) that are unique to mobiles, and do not have standard terms in Malayalam. A multidisciplinary team of academicians, school teachers, linguists, publishers, journalists, translators and wikipedians and members of the Free Software community undertook to determine Malayalam translations for about 500 similar terms, so that these could be used by different vendors to implement Malayalam User Interfaces in mobile devices.

“Partly as a result of the earlier work by ICFOSS and SMC on Indic language text rendering Android, many operators started introducing Malayalam interfaces in mobile devices. Another major step was taken when we released a keyboard layout supporting 15 Indic languages. The standardization of technical terms is another major step towards improving the local language support in the mobile segment.” Said Anivar Aravind, Secretary, Swathanthra Malayalam Computing.

“Unlike word by word translation, localization now follows the method of selecting culturally apt words based on context that conveys the meaning to the common man in a simpler form on the mobile” says Hrishikesh K.B from Swathanthra Malayalam Computing.

“Localization of Malayalam and other Indic languages is something that directly enables the citizen to utilize technology in the most convenient way. ICFOSS has joined hands with SMC as we believe in Community-driven Research and Development”, said R. Srinivasan, Manager of the Govt. of India-supported Research Programme on localization.

For more details on the project, please contact R Srinivasan, Project Manager, ICFOSS @ 9447077464.

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