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Friday, 10 September 2010

Transliteration, or Translation?



Many bloggers wish to add text to a post, in a foreign language. There are easy ways to do that.

These two words are similar, though very different...

Trans·lit·er·ate ... [ pron: tranz-lit-uh-reyt ] - a verb.
To change (letters, words, etc.) into corresponding characters of another alphabet, or language: eg: to transliterate the Greek 'X' as 'Ch'.

Trans·late ... [ pron: tranz-leyt ] - a verb.
To change one language into another, or a foreign language into your own. eg: to translate Spanish into English.


Google has many avenues for Transliteration, depending on the product used, and many languages available. However, in Blogger, as at the time of writing this post, only nineteen languages can be Transliterated :

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Greek
  • Persian
  • Gujarati
  • Kannada
  • Hindi
  • Malayalam
  • Marathi
  • Nepali
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit
  • Serbian
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Tigrinya
  • Urdu


Google also provides a Translation Language Tool, which works wonderfully well. It's what I use if I want to add some text in a foreign language, as well as English. Currently, there are about 50+ languages on the interface, with more in Beta. So, there really is no reason you can't type text in a language of choice - unless it is one which hasn't been interfaced, as yet.


What are the differences?

As you can see from the above definitions, Transliteration is for changing letters, or words, into a corresponding alphabet, or language. Blogger's Transliteration feature is a phonetically-based system. It is NOT a Translator. It is fairly straight forward and I will not be explaining it further, here. Suffice to say, that using Transliteration on your Post Editor, allows you to change one word, or a whole section of text in a post. You choose by highlighting.

To enable this feature, go to the Settings - Basics page, select Enable for the transliteration option, and select your preferred language. This setting will affect all blogs on your account. Then, on your Post Editor, you'll notice a button ...




For further instructions in the use of Transliteration, see Blogger Help.

Transliteration allows you to type in English, and then transliterate certain Roman characters into the selected Indic characters, of a language such as Tamil, or Hindi (see above). This lets you type these languages phonetically in English script and still have them appear in their correct alphabet. Note that this is not the same as translation - the 'sound' of the words is converted from one alphabet to the other, not the meaning. If you find that you'd prefer a different sound, then you can change it.

n.b.: I recommend that you view the section of Blogger Help entitled "Installing and Viewing Indic Fonts". It covers certain information re: Browsers.

Transliteration does NOT work for the Title section, or Labels section, of a post!



Translation, on the other hand, is entirely different. As yet, there is no Translator option available on Blogger Editor. However, the Blogger interface allows and supports foreign language fonts, depending on the Browser used.

Translation of minor, or major blocks of text, can be done in quick fashion. The Google Language Tool provides interfaces for over 50 languages - including Hindi. The other languages available in Transliteration, are not yet available on the Language Tool.

eg; - If I wanted to translate this passage of text into, say, Russian, I could. I would simply type it into the Language Tool, select the language and click on 'Translate'.

Then, I highlight and copy the translation, and paste it to my Post Editor ...
note: I always copy straight to Notepad first, in case there is any formatting to be cleared!

- Если бы я хотел, чтобы перевод этого отрывка текста на русский язык, что мог. Я бы просто введите его в инструмент Язык выберите нужный язык и нажмите 'Перевести'.


One major concern though, is the occasional hiccup in the reverse-translation ... although I can only presume a Russian person would understand what was meant in the original script, sometimes they don't. I tried sending a letter to a Thai friend, translated it faithfully from English into Thai, sent it, and she couldn't make sense of it!

- If I wanted to translate this piece of text into, say, Russian, I could. I would just enter it into an instrument of language, select English to Russian language, and click - Translate.

Google's Language Tool is kewl - fast, generally efficient, and translations are accepted into the Title field, as can be seen here, and also (I believe) Labels fields, if selected.



Depending upon choice, Transliteration, and Translation are two mighty tools for the busy blogger. Not all bloggers would use Transliteration, though could use Translation. It's YOUR choice!


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