Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Troops may not go to Baghdad but GI Joe is learning Hindi
By Reshma Patil (indianexpress.com)

Mumbai, July 14: For a while now, the US Department of Defense and its research wings have been in a tearing hurry to read Hindi. Because keeping tab on a faraway border that doesn’t speak English is tiresome work, the translation a painfully slow exercise.

So from June 1, commanded by a message — the surprise language is Hindi...Good luck! — from a research funding branch of the US military, around 100 computational linguists at 11 sites in the US and UK invented a new set of information tools to translate Hindi text into English. And query Hindi databases with English questions.

The technology can identify documents with ‘‘highest promise’’ of holding information the researcher is interested in, saving translators hours of drudgery.

‘‘A major national language too long neglected in the West with important similarities to other languages in northern India and to Urdu in Pakistan... it can benefit information retrieval in India and foster broader international co-operation and understanding,’’ flashed the Surprise Language Exercise command from sponsor Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).