(Cross-posted from the Google Translate Blog)
For many Internet users, it is not always easy to write in languages that use unique character sets like Hindi, Hebrew and Arabic. Most computer keyboards only allow for the input of Roman characters (the alphabet used by most Western languages) and converting between scripts can be difficult. To make this process easier we launched an improved version of Google Transliteration at the end of last year, a service which enables you to phonetically convert Roman letters into a variety of other scripts.
Today we’re delighted to announce support for five new languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Hebrew, Oriya and Sinhalese. This bring the total up to 22 languages spoken across Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. These new languages are currently available at http://www.google.com/transliterate.
Since you can’t use Google Transliteration offline we also launched the transliteration based “Input Method Editor” (IME) earlier this year. Once you download and install the Google Transliteration IME (don’t worry, it's free), you can type a word the way it sounds using Roman characters and the software will convert the word to its native script. For example, typing "hamesha" in Google Hindi IME transliterates into Hindi as: हमेशा.
As an improvement to the IME, we’ve recently added 5 more languages (Amharic, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian and Tigrinya) as well as canonical schemes, macros and support for Windows 64-bit. You can read about all these powerful new features on the Google Transliteration IME help page.
Now what if you come across a language that you can speak but can’t read? For example, if you can speak Hindi, you may know that “namaste” is a greeting, however you may not be able to read ‘नमस्ते’ in Hindi script. Our new Script Converter tool converts a given web page or piece of text from one script to another so that you can read it phonetically. Script Converter currently supports 17 languages: Bengali, English, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
So, try out these tools and let us know what you think.