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Times of India

The Navhind Times

The Economic Times

Times of India
Goa governor calls nations to be partners in progress (Read Online)
[ TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2002 12:37:11 AM ]
PANAJI: Goa governor, Kidar Nath Sahani has called upon Nations to be friends and partners in the process for achieving greater peace and progress in the world.

Addressing an international conference on universal knowledge and language at Sinquerim today, he emphasised the need for expanding intellectual horizons and said that countries were becoming increasingly inter-dependent in every field of human activities, an official release said here.

"Languages and scripts have played and would continue to play a dominant role in the development of civilization," the release said quoting the governor.

These have provided the means of exchanging knowledge and cultures across space and time, he said adding, knowledge would be a great source of prosperity in the new millennium.

"Lack of reciprocal understanding and effective communication can lead to the danger of misconception, distrust and conflicts, being witnessed today," he said and added efforts of the United Nations to address conflicting issues were timely and important.

The chief minister Manohar Parrikar and chairman of the conference, Prof M G K Menon also spoke on the occasion.

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The Navhind Times
Goa to host global meet on languages
(Read Online)

NT News Service

Panaji, Nov 7: Goa will play host to a 5-day major international conference on universal knowledge and language-2002 scheduled to be held from November 25 to 29, 2002. The conference unique of its kind in the country will reflect on interdependence on language, knowledge and culture from philosophical to the engineering perspective.

About 150 delegates from China, Iran, Africa, Italy, France, Portugal and other parts of the world and country will participate in the conference.

It is a moment of great pride to Goa that the United Nations has chosen Goa to host the international event of great significance and importance. Besides presentation of papers by eminent personalities from abroad and the country papers in local languages, Konkani and Marathi will also be presented.

This international event will go a long way to boost development of regional languages and also further strengthen Goa on the world tourist map.

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The Navhind Times
Meet on knowledge and language from Nov 25
(Read Online)

NT Staff Reporter

Panaji, Nov 17: The UNDL Foundation has initiated a process to develop a program for translating various global languages into machine languages for bringing making the world smaller. Konkani, Marathi, besides Hindi are three Indian languages which are presently being taken up for inclusion in the program by Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai (IIT), UNDL’s nodal agency.

The five-day international conference on ‘Universal knowledge and language’ scheduled to be held in Goa between November 25 to 29 will deliberate on various aspects of the program. The conference is jointly organized by the UNDL Foundation, Geneva, Transcultura International Institute, France and IIT-Mumbai. Nearly 100 delegates of which 35 foreign delegates would participate in the conference.

The director of IIT-Mumbai, Prof Ashok Misra told reporters in city, this morning that knowledge, culture and language have been addressed by scientists and scholars as isolated domains in the past but current trends are compelling philosophers, computer engineers, social leaders and policy-makers to enlarge the understanding of the convergence of information media, and to take a more integrated approach to societal development. The conference aims at providing an appropriate framework and atmosphere for such approach and understanding.

Stating that the conference is unique in nature, Prof Misra said it was intended to be an occasion for reflecting on the interdependence of language, knowledge and culture from the philosophical to the engineering perspectives. It is also intended to be another opportunity for learning and discussing specific issues concerning UNL multilingual infrastructure and related linguistic or technological issues. To facilitate an integrated approach to these diverse subjects, the program is organised under the broad and provocative theme ‘Universal Knowledge and Language’ and will be focused from four interrelated perspectives: philosophical, cultural, linguistic and engineering.

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The Navhind Times
Global networking for Konkani
(Read Online)

NT Staff Reporter

Panaji, Nov 27: The United Nations Digital Language Foundation has initiated a process of establishing the universal networking language which will help Konkani language to establish its links with the Konkani speaking people scattered all over the world and also to get global information in Konkani.

A 5-day international conference on ‘Universal knowledge and language’ began in Goa from November 25 to deliberate on various aspects of the universal networking programme. The conference is being jointly organised by the UNDL foundation, Geneva; Transcultura International Institute, France and IIT-Bombay with the aim of promoting world peace.

Three papers were presented on Konkani language today and the delegates could get information on Konkani language and its development. Dr Kiran Budkuley presented a paper on ‘Goan identity,’ Ms Madhavi Sardessai presented a paper on ‘Portuguese influence on Konkani language and technical issues,’ while Mr Shantaram Varde Walaulikar deliberated on his experience in building of corpus of Konkani words.

Mr Walaulikar also explained to the conference about the project undertaken by the department of electronics over machine translation of the languages. “The Konkani language corpus was formed with 3.1 million words and this will help the UNDL programme,” he informed.

The UNDL foundation chairman, Prof Della Santa opined that the UNDL technology could be used “for linking all 18 Indian languages so that there is better understanding between the writers, scholars and others within the country.”

A Spanish national Mr Santa told Konkani language delegates that UNDL would be glad to provide its expertise to develop networking of the Indian languages.

Noted Konkani writer, Udai Bhembre, who presented his paper on ‘History of Konkani language’ yesterday said that the history of Konkani language is the history of a language which was being taken for crucifixion but fortunately was not killed. “This is the story of a language suppressed by the foreigners and neglected by its own speakers,” he added.

Bhembre said some of the languages from this “World, being difficult and scholarly, are lagging behind. Some languages being less spoken gradually become extinct. However, in a bid to demolish a particular culture, an attempt to destroy its very base was done, which was a bad fate for Konkani.”

Nevertheless, he said Konkani sustained, grew and could very well dream of a bright future only because it had an incredible vigour of its own.

Stating that presently around 40 to 50 lakh people speak Konkani in India, Bhembre said these people lay scattered from Mumbai to Kochi along the west coast. Konkani speaking people reside in the four states of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Tracing the origin of Konkani, Bhembre said most of the scholars concede that Konkani language evolved around the 10th century.

According to Dr Jose Pereira, during the 8th century, Aryans set their feet on the Konkan soil. Their dialect was influenced by Prakrit languages and that led to the birth of Konkani language in the 10th century.

“Sripad Raghunath Desai opines that during the 9th or 10th century, Konkani, Marathi, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Bengali and other modern Indian languages were born from apabhramsh Prakrit”, Bhembre observed.

Thereafter, for around 500 years, Konkani must have remained only a spoken language continuing the oral tradition. No evidence is available to prove its written tradition of that time, Bhembre informed.

However, the 12th century Gomateshwara idol at Sravana Belagola carries an inscription under its feet in the words ‘Chawundrayem Karaviyalem.’ Dr Jose Pereira contends it to be the first sample of written Konkani. The head of the department of Marathi at Nagpur University, Dr S B Kulkarni agrees with this, Bhembre stated.

Maharashtrian saint, Namdev in one of his verses of Gawlan type has written one of the stanzas in Konkani, he added.

Portuguese scholar, Dr Cunha Rivara has recorded that during conversions, Portuguese rulers burnt most of the manuscripts that existed then. Which included some Konkani manuscripts too. But before the arrival of the Portuguese in Goa, there is no evidence yet found to prove that written Konkani was in vogue during that period, Bhembre said.

Bhembre said the printing press came to Goa in 1556 and Konkani books started getting printed and published in this press and thus the propagation of Konkani books was rendered easier. Initially the printing press was installed at Old Goa but it was later shifted to Raitur. Rev Father Thomas Stephens published his book Doutrina Cristam in 1622 and his book Arte de Lingua Canarim the first Konkani grammar of its kind, was published in 1640.

“Two factors are important in this light: the first book in an Indian language was printed in Konkani and second, the first published grammar of any modern Indian language was of Konkani,” Bhembre observed.

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The Economics Times
Process on to create first-ever word Net in Hindi
(Read Online)

[ TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2002 03:45:26 AM ]

PANAJI: A group of experts dealing with universal knowledge and language (UNL) project at IIT Bombay are in the process of creating a Hindi word Net which would be the first word Net in the country.

Disclosing this,  Pushpak Bhattacharya, Associate Professor in the department of Computer Science who is in Goa attending the  five-day international conference on UNL underway at  Fort Aguada at Sinquerim told The Economic Times that there are about 15,000 concepts in word Net and 75,000 in dictionary and they intend to increase the concepts in word Net to 50,000 and dictionary to around 1.5 lakh within two years by which time the project would be completed.

"We have already created word Net in Marathi which is small in size and now the plan is to link Hindi with Marathi," he said.

Hindi happens to be first Indian language among the 15 world languages which are on UNL so far. The plan is to bring under UNL all the languages representing the member countries of United Nations, says MGK. Menon, Chairman of  IIT Bombay and member of UNDL Foundation.

IIT Bombay has been associated with the UNL project for over eight years in a United Nations' aided project under the Union Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. The project has been financed by Ministry  while Tata Consultancy Services and Media Lab Asia have also given grants  for the same. 

Apart from finances, availability of good quality man power- translators- is also a constraint, Dr. Bhattacharya  said pointing out that in the Western world,   "translators are very highly paid  but this culture has yet to set in India".    

The unified base of Indian languages is a big advantage  with work done in one language proves useful in another related language, Dr. Bhattcharya earlier stated at the conference giving an overview of the UNL effort in India. 

Experts like Dr Hiroshi Uchida who conceived the UNL in China in 1996 , Prof Della Senta are attending the conference which is deliberating on the UNL as a multilingual infrastructure, enabling communication and knowledge sharing among people of different languages and cultures.

Della Senta  expressed concern that as the things stand, there are many languages in the world that are disappearing under the impact of technology and globalisation leading to monoculture. "Language should not be barrier but an opportunity facilitating understanding among humans," he remarked. 

UNL  has always been with the topic of very active interest to language processing groups  of this country- both in academics and in the industry, said Dr. Bhattacharya. The language research group in Anna University in Tamil Nadu is creating the Tamil -UNL system which will be presented at the conference by TCS and Media Lab Asia which are leading industries of this country which have groups devoted to building UNL based systems.

"Compared to many related efforts, UNL is a relatively young system. As an intermediate representation of knowledge it has great potential which needs to be tapped. The ultimate test would be development of large systems which are Web enabled. This is indeed one of the themes of the conference," says Ashok Misra, Director, IIT Bombay.

Bhattacharya recalls that at IIT Bombay the group started research  on UNL in 1996 by working on a system that converts UNL expressions to Hindi sentences.

In 1998 they  began building  Hindi to UNL  by reverse conversion system. Gradually they added the activity on English analysis. All these are now stable and mature systems. Very recently IIT Bombay has begun completing the Marathi -UNL system and Konkani language was next on the agenda. 

Representatives from  UNDL Foundation, Geneva, Transcultura International Institute, Paris apart from the IIT Bombay are participating in the conference.

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