Indian tech skills to the rescue of Wikipedia’s diverse tongues

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Chandigarh | August 6, 2016 2:18 PM

India might seem like the Tower of Babel with its many diverse tongues but modern-day skills of young techies here are helping solve linguistic problems in computing from across the globe.

Three out of six tech specialists of the powerful global Wikipedia site- the sixth-largest website in the world and widely used by most computer users- are from India. Two are from Europe and one from Israel. (Reuters)Three out of six tech specialists of the powerful global Wikipedia site- the sixth-largest website in the world and widely used by most computer users- are from India. Two are from Europe and one from Israel. (Reuters)

India might seem like the Tower of Babel with its many diverse tongues but modern-day skills of young techies here are helping solve linguistic problems in computing from across the globe.

Three out of six tech specialists of the powerful global Wikipedia site- the sixth-largest website in the world and widely used by most computer users- are from India. Two are from Europe and one from Israel.

“We develop tools, ensure compliance with Web standards and deal with user feedback,” Runa Bhattacharjee, Manager of Wikipedia’s global Language Team, told IANS here on the sidelines of the ongoing Wikiconference India 2016.

According to her, working on the right-to-left written scripts can be the most challenging. “That includes Hebrew, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and some versions of Sindhi,” Bhattacharjee said, adding that Mongolian is actually written from top-to-down but that’s not the way it gets used on the Wikipedia.

Khmer, the language of Cambodia, proved to be tough because it had something like 76 characters while there were challenges with languages like Dzongkha used in Bhutan. The team also mentions challenges with languages like Dhivehi (from the Maldivies) and Javanese.

Kartik Mistry, software engineer with the Language Team working out of Mumbai, was involved with Free Software and Open Source technologies almost a decade ago when he was just out of school.

“Most of the problems we faced 10 years ago in rendering Indian language (and non-English) computing are today mostly solved (due to the progress made by various computing solutions),” Mistry said.

“We have launched web fonts for almost all languages. We also added input methods on the (different language) Wikipedias too,” he added.

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