Friday, December 23, 2005

Thai Transliteration

Here is a transliteration or romanization tool that historians can use to automate one of the myriad of details they have to attend to when they write history.

When you are writing history that involves several different languages and cultural groups transcription or romanization of local languages can be a sticky issue. Some romanizations reproduce the script perfectly but are impossible to pronounce. Others are easy to pronounce, but don't reproduce the script. The best choice once Burmese unicode fonts can be used would seem to be transliterating for pronunciation including the Burmese script in parentheses or a footnote.

Tools like this that set a standard, are to be welcomed. Computer programs like this aren't always easy to write though. They use finite state machines. I wrote a finite state machine for Burmese script in Perl. When the Burmese language is added to the unicode engine that drives Windows XP, I have a dream of writing a little virtual typewriter for Burmese with a software keyboard on the screen.