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Student develops software for Manipuri SMS
Published on 28 Dec. 2009 11:31 PM IST
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An engineering student from Manipur has developed a software for the Manipuri script or Meetei Mayek for popularising the language. Tony Naorem, a student from the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, had been trying hard for long to develop a software that would enable people to send SMS from their mobile phones in Meetei Mayek. “I used to wonder if the rest of the world can express their feelings in their own languages and scripts, why not the Manipuris in Meetei Mayek,” said Naorem. The software, successfully uploaded in his website www.khunyai. com, can be downloaded free of cost for public use. By installing the software, which is compatible in more than 300 mobile handset models of different brands, one can send SMSs in Meetei Mayek, said Naorem. He added that the software could be of great help in popularising the script amongst the masses. “Script being one of the most important parts of a culture and civilisation, I felt the need of bridging the gap between our script and new technologies. The Technology Development for Indian Languages Programme recently made some tools and software for using Meetei Mayek with computers. So, knowing the possibility of having an application for SMSing by using Meetei Mayek, I started working on it,” Naorem said. The origins of the Manipuri alphabet or Meetei Mayek are shrouded in mystery as many historical documents were destroyed during the reign of King Pamheiba in the 18th century. Some believe that the alphabet had been used for almost 4,000 years, while others think that it was developed from the Bengali alphabet during the 17th century. Between 1709 and the middle of the 20th century, the Manipuri language was written with the Bengali alphabet. During the 1940s and 50s, Manipuri scholars began campaigning to bring back the old Manipuri alphabet. In 1976 at a writers’ conference, the scholars finally agreed on a new version of the alphabet containing a number of additional letters to represent sounds not present in the language when the script was first developed. The current Manipuri script is a reconstruction of the ancient Manipuri script. It is now taught up to class V in both government and private schools. “We are going through the transition period. It will take some time before the original script is embraced altogether again,” Naorem said.

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