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English is still the primary medium of interaction with computers. Consequently, a large section of the population in India is not able to reap the benefits of the technology. Though the issue of localization of interface has been discussed in different forum, the goal is yet to be achieved.
In spite of the fact that desktop publishing has come of age for Bangla and other Indian languages and there are several software available for Bangla, the problem persists due to the absence of i) standardization of Bangla encoding, ii) encoding compliant font design, iii) availability of compliant keyboard layouts etc. The lack of adherence to standard does not allow the computing activities in Indian languages to be inter-operable across computing platforms.
In order to make the computing activities Bangla compatible, it is essential to establish a proper standard. Though a number of organizations have taken up language processing activities, the necessity of establishing proper coherence among them is very much felt, in order to deliver useful products.
Language Technology research has to focus on two components, written text as well as spoken language. Besides text processing, speech generation and recognition are two very important areas in which research and development have to be focused. This development will not only result in more natural human-computer interfaces, but will also empower the physically challenged like those with speech impairment and visual impairment, to benefit from computer technology.
The Society for Natural Language Technology Research has been formed to address the above mentioned requirements. The society has been seeded by the Govt. of West Bengal (Dept. of Information Technology) with initial funding and support. Operationally, the society aims to carry out its activities in a multipolar manner, involving other academic and research institutes as well as industries.
Data Representation and Encoding Standard: Society for Natural Language Technology Research has decided to accept UNICODE 5.0 and upwards as the standard for data representation and encoding for Bangla.