TECHNOLOGY: NBU digitises Nepali for India

TECHNOLOGY: NBU digitises Nepali for India – same Devnagari script as Sanskrit and Hindi, evolving from Khaskura to Nepali to Gorkhali, better late than never ?!!

Striving for keyboard presence: the varsity’s Nepali department - soon to evolve into Gorkhali department ?!! (TT)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Sept. 9: Work on digitising Nepali is currently underway at North Bengal University (NBU), a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country taken up by the Union ministry of communications and information technology.

The three-year project is being executed in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune. The work that commenced at the university in June 2008 is being funded by the department of information technology (DIT) as part of its project to digitise four major languages in the Northeast — Assamese, Bodo, Manipuri and Nepali.

“The Nepali department at the NBU has been assigned the task of the digital development of Nepali. Work on Bodo and Assamese is in progress at Gauhati University, while Manipuri is being digitised at Manipur University,” said Ghanashyam Nepal, one of the two chief investigators of the project and the head of the Nepali department at the NBU.

The other chief investigator is Pushkar Parajuli, also a lecturer at the Nepali department.

A group of experts in Nepali has been working extensively on compiling a Nepali corpus, collecting and morphologically analysing each and every word, their meanings, grammar and spellings. These are sent at regular intervals as raw material to the C-DAC where the software is being developed after the final consolidation.

“A software for Nepali has already been developed in Nepal. But the project being undertaken at the NBU is the first-of-its kind for the Nepali language in India. Published material available in the country is used to develop the software. It is a commendable step taken by the government for the Nepali language,” said Sharad Sinha, the core investigator of the project.

“We have collected and compiled around three million words from written material like novels, drama, newspapers, prose and wedding and visiting cards. All these will be compiled and used in the software,” said Kumar Pradhan, the chief language expert of the project.

“Spell-check, grammar check, and dictionary are some of the features of the software. The real challenge lies in compiling grammatical aspects, especially verbs because there are several ways to express an action in Nepali. We are also developing templates for verbs and actions,” he said. “The software will be useful for anybody who is interested in Nepali, especially research scholars. It will also be a basis for high-tech computation of the language later,” Kumar added.

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