Indic transliteration for Orkut scraps

Scraps can be typed in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Examples in this page are illustrated only for Hindi and the same applies to other languages as well.

What is Transliteration?

Orkut offers an automatic transliteration option in the scrapbook that converts Roman characters to the corresponding Indic characters. This lets you type Indic words phonetically in English script and still have them appear in their correct alphabet. Note: this is not the same as translation -- it's the sound of the words that are converted from one alphabet to the other, not their meaning. For example, the word "hamesha" entered in English transliterates into Hindi as:

Enabling the Transliteration Feature

Transliteration is enabled by default for all users from India. It is also enabled if you have mentioned India as your country in your profile. It can also be enabled by listing any of Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam in the languages I speak section.

To list a language in your languages I speak section:

  1. Visit your homepage and click the profile button under your photo.
  2. Next, click edit profile.
  3. On the general tab, find the languages I speak section and choose your preferred language from the dropdown menu.
  4. Click update.

Once you've done that, you'll see a new checkbox along with a language dropdown above the scrap box when you visit a scrapbook.

Typing with Transliteration

Use the checkbox to toggle the transliteration feature on and off. (You can also use Ctrl-G as a shortcut.) You can also choose the language to scrap from the dropdown. The letters of a word will appear as you type them until you reach the end of the word. Once you type a space or a punctuation mark, the letters will be converted to corresponding language characters, like this:

The transliteration feature attempts to accurately match the sounds of the letters between the two alphabets. If you find that it's incorrect, however, you can fix it.

Correcting Words

When you find a word you want to change, just click on it once with the left mouse button. A short menu of alternate spellings will appear, as will an option to switch back to the original Roman characters you typed.

Saving Corrected Transliterations

When you type a word and the transliteration is not the one you wanted, you can correct it with the editing feature described above. When you do this, the new transliteration is remembered for you. If you type the same word again in the future, it will then be transliterated correctly based on your saved preference. These corrections are stored to help us improve our service.

Installing and Viewing Indic Fonts

Orkut uses Unicode to encode the Indic characters in your scrap. Unicode is a system of representing text and symbols that's supported by all modern browsers and operating systems.

Mozilla Firefox requires support for complex text layout to display Indic text correctly. If the two images displayed on top of the page do not match, then you need to either enable complex text layout support or install Unicode fonts - please refer to this Wikipedia article for more details. The Malayalam characters with chillus may not be rendered correctly on some systems even with complex script rendering enabled, in which case you can refer to this Wikia article for solutions to set this right.

Is transliteration available in other Google services

Yes. Transliteration is available as a standalone product, as an iGoogle gadget and as a feature in Blogger. Please see this article for more information.


  • The transliteration feature is supported only in IE versions 6.0 and higher on Windows, and Firefox 1.5 and higher on Windows and Linux. It is supported in Firefox on Macs when correct Unicode fonts are enabled.
  • The transliteration checkbox appears only when you're typing scraps. All the other editing features of scrapbook (such as adding photos or HTML code) will continue to work normally with transliterated text.
  • If you see a message saying that the transliteration service is unavailable, check your internet connection. This feature requires a live internet connection, as all the transliteration is done on Google's servers and sent back to your browser while you work on your scrap.