August 11th, 2010 | Published in Google Blog
I work on projects to help people communicate between languages—whether to read in foreign languages, write in different scripts or chat with people in other countries. Helping people understand information and each other, regardless of language, is an incredibly rewarding experience. This is why it’s always exciting to hear real testimonials from people who have used our language tools—especially in unexpected ways.
Ryan, from Ottawa, shared this moving story of how he used Google Transliteration to learn his future fiancée’s native language:
In October 2009, I proposed to my wonderful girlfriend, Irina, and am happy to report we are getting married this Summer. Although we met and fell in love in North America, I am from the United States, while she is originally from Bangladesh.
As our relationship developed, I naturally felt compelled to learn my fiancee's native language, to better understand her life and to learn to communicate to her non-English-speaking family members.
Recalling my junior high Spanish courses, I put together a list of English words I figured I should learn in Bangla and passed the list to Irina. After she had translated them for me, I clumsily began constructing awkward sentences and surprising her with them.
To help push my education along further, I transferred my word list into a Google spreadsheet via Google Documents. Whenever Irina would use a Bangla word I hadn't heard before, I would ask her what it meant, and then immediately put the word into my Google Document, which I titled “Bangla Dictionary.”; My dictionary grew and grew. Today it contains over 350 words and phrases.
As much as I enjoyed this process, in less than a year I had reached a “peak” and learned as much Bangla as I would ever learn using this method. I realized that if I were ever to learn how to speak Bangla, I would need to become LITERATE in Bangla.
That was when I discovered Google Transliteration. Irina had already shown me how to express Bangla words in English characters. By using your Transliteration feature I could spell a word the only way I knew how, and see immediately what it looked like in Bangla! With the help of a few online Bengali alphabet sites, I could now start learning the characters in the contexts of words and sentences I understood.
I am happy to report that I am finally learning to read and write in Bangla.
Thanks to your applications, I have learned a second language, become closer to my fiancee, and have opened the door toward building strong ties in my new Bangladeshi family.
We’re always happy to hear how people are using our tools to achieve their goals and, in this case, build relationships with future in-laws across the globe. We wish all the best to Ryan and Irina and here’s to many more years of communicating in Bangla!