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Chrome characters

Transliterate English characters into East Asian languages with this free Chrome extension.

Google's free Chrome browser may trail IE and Firefox in popularity, but the many open-source modules and enhancements available for Google software make for some interesting extensions. Take Google Transliteration Service, a free add-on that transliterates Roman alphabetical characters into one of a number of different language systems, including Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, and other languages spoken in East Asia. It doesn't translate text; it transliterates it, which means it changes it to its phonetic equivalent in the selected language, translating only the sounds of letters and words, not their meaning. It lets users enter text in their own language from any English-language keyboard on any Web site via Chrome.

Google Transliteration Service downloads and installs easily, like all Google extensions; it doesn't even require you to restart Chrome, unlike some other free, open-source browsers we know. We clicked the Wrench icon on Chrome's toolbar, selected Tools/Extensions, and clicked on Google Transliteration Service's Options. These consisted of a drop-down menu for selecting one of 13 languages and a few checkboxes for stuff like configuring how the program's icon is displayed and setting a keyboard shortcut (the default is Ctrl + G). Using this app couldn't be simpler. On any text-entry area on any Web site, simply press the hotkey shortcut to enable transliteration. We browsed to Google, typed Ctrl + G, and a yellow bar appeared atop the Chrome border notifying us that transliteration was active. The program also placed an icon in the text entry field. We simply typed in our text string by the icon, and the English letters changed to phonetic characters in our selected language, Hindi. Next we tried Arabic and then a few others; each displayed text in its unique characters. Of course, we were typing English word with transliterated sounds, not actual Arabic or Punjabi words, but that's just what Google Transliteration Service is supposed to do, and what it did. To exit transliteration, we simply typed Ctrl + G again.

Google Transliteration Service is another example of what developers and users can do with Chrome. For those who can make use of it, it certainly adds a useful capability.

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