Transliteration – converting a word’s presentation from one script to another – is an important part of learning Bengali for any English speaker.
There are online tools that will do this for you, changing your typing from the Roman script in which English is written into bangla. Google’s transliteration service is a useful online tool, and there are also several Bengali transliteration iPhone apps.
The two apps I’ve downloaded are Bangla Keyboard (aka banglaTyping) and iTransliterate.
Both are useful and allow you to email your typing, but I prefer Bangla Keyboard (59p on iTunes) for the greater precision it offers in terms letter choices.
Bangla Keyboard, which I’ve used now and then for my 5 Bengali words posts, is also the only app or tool I’ve seen that will allow you to add the chandrobindu grammatical mark. (Not even Google offers you a way to do this.)
The iTransliterate iPhone app (free on iTunes) offers transliteration for a number of languages, including Hindi as well as Bengali.
It uses a similar approach to Google Transliterate’s ‘guessing’ approach to suggest the word you mean, and double tapping on the word on your iPhone will bring up some alternative spellings or different words with similar spelling. But it lacks the precision of Bangla Keyboard.
There is also now a third Bengali typing app available. The Bengali PaniniKeypad app (£1.79 on iTunes) and its selling points appear to be Facebook integration and an “intelligent predictive keypad that is based on linguistics”.
I’ve not downloaded it – how many transliteration apps do I need? – so can’t really comment on it and include it here more for completeness than anything else.
It does look like the Panini Keypad app will struggle with Bengali’s many conjuncts, but then that’s also true for the Bangla Keyboard and iTransliterate apps. They will all also be subject to the iPhone’s problems showing Bengali script correctly.