Monday September 23, 2019

Assamese want recognition for their script in computer coding

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Guwahati: The rich history of Assam from the times of Brahmi script in Guptan times to the rock inscriptions and copper plates of fourth and fifth centuries has the ability to convince the US-based Unicode Consortium to give it a sperate slot for its script and remove computational intricacies in using it in the digital age.

The Unicode Consortium, that gives languages a set of universal characters for use in computers, identifies Assamese as another form of Bengali script, making its use difficult in the digital world.

The Assam government recently submitted to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) that it is a historically evolved script with its own set of characters and symbols representing written texts. But the non-inclusion of this in Unicode and ISO standards has triggered problems in using the language in computers.

During the initial days of digital standards for the Indian Languages in the first Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII) released by BIS in December 1991, a clear mention was made of the Assamese script. The ISCII document released by BIS clearly mentioned that the northern scripts are Devnagari, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, and Assamese, while the southern scripts are Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Tamil, an official said.

“However, in all subsequent standards like ISO and Unicode, Assamese script has not been included,” said the official, who is on the panel constituted by the Assam government to push its case for a separate slot on the Unicode, but who did not wish to be identified.

Literary bodies, academicians, and researchers in Assam had objected to the Unicode Consortium move and written to the union government. The Assam government was then asked to submit a detailed proposal that would subsequently be referred to the US body.

While literary bodies such as Asom Sahitya Sabha (ASS) had maintained that the Assamese language was being neglected, Satyakam Phukan, a surgeon who has researched the origin of the Assamese script, said it could be due to lack of knowledge of the US-body about the uniqueness of the script.

“The Assamese alphabets were not separately encoded by Unicode. Following their policy of unification, the Assamese script was eclipsed into Bengali. The uniqueness of the Assamese script was perhaps unknown to the mainly American experts of Unicode,” Phukan told IANS.

The Assam government’s proposal to BIS went deeper into the origin of the script to push for a separate slot for the local language.

“The Assamese script is one of the important scripts of Eastern India. Assamese script is originated from the Brahmi script of the Gupta age. Studies of the rock inscriptions and copper plate inscriptions of the 4th, 5th and later centuries, discovered in different parts of Assam, clearly indicate that the Assamese script is the evolutionary resultant of the scripts used in rock and copper plate inscriptions and other objects like coins and clay seals of Nalanda,” the Assam government’s proposal to the BIS said.

“The evolution of this Assamese script can be divided into three different stages: Old Assamese script or the Kamrupi script (4th/5th to 13th century); Medieval Assamese script (13th to early part of 19th century) and Modern script from the early part of the nineteenth century,” the proposal said.

It further said that the Assamese script started to take its modern form in the early part of the 13th century as evident from the Kanai-Barashibowa rock inscriptions in north Guwahati.

The script received its modern form when the missionaries started printed books and magazines in the early 19th century. The first printed book in Assamese was “Dharmapustak”, a translation of the Bible by Atmaram Sarma from Kaliabar in Assam, published in 1813.

“In the digital world, to use a language as the medium of information, we must have all the characters and symbols with proper codes. The Assamese script has got its own set of characters and symbols, and these are required to have assigned codes for proper usage in terms of computational tasks, application development etc. The language, a major Indian language recognized in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India, has got its own script, the Script, having its own historical evolution,” the proposal mentioned.

The Assamese language, a major Indian language recognized in the eighth schedule of the Constitution of India, has got its own script, the Assamese Script, having its own historical evolution,” the proposal mentioned.

Ranjan Kumar Baruah, a Guwahati-based social entrepreneur, said a separate slot for its script was necessary for promoting the language in the digital age.

“This is necessary at a time when our state government asked all business establishments, government and non-government organizations to use the local language in hoardings and banners and for other official purposes,” Baruah said.(IANS)

Next Story

Computer Can Now Reveal Your Fake Facial Expressions

According to the researchers, in fake smiles it is often only the mouth muscles which move but, as humans, we often don’t spot the lack of movement around the eyes. The computer software can spot this much more reliably

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate (Representational image). VOA

Real and fake smiles can be tricky to distinguish, but researchers have now developed a computer software that can spot false facial expressions.

By analysing the movement of the smile across a person’s face, the software can determine whether or not the expression is genuine, said the study published in journal Advanced Engineering Informatics.

The most significant movements detected by the software were around the eyes, supporting popular theories that a spontaneous, genuine smile is one that can be seen in a person’s eyes.

“Techniques for analysing human facial expressions have advanced dramatically in recent years, but distinguishing between genuine and posed smiles remains a challenge because humans are not good at picking up the relevant cues,” said study lead author Hassan Ugail, Professor at University of Bradford in the UK.

The software works by first mapping a person’s face from within a video recording, and identifying the mouth, cheeks and eyes of the subject.

It then measures how these facial features move through the progress of the smile and calculates the differences in movement between the video clips showing real and fake smiles.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. (Representational image). VOA

Researchers tested the programme using two different datasets, one containing images of people expressing genuine smiles, and another in which the images portrayed posed smiles.

They found significant differences in the way the subjects’ mouths and cheeks moved when comparing the real and the fake expressions. The movements around the subjects’ eyes, however, showed the most striking variation, with genuine smiles generating at least 10 per cent more movement in these muscles.

“We use two main sets of muscles when we smile — the zygomaticus major, which is responsible for the curling upwards of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi, which causes crinkling around our eyes,” Ugail said.

Also Read: Microsoft Acquires Data Privacy, Governance Service BlueTalon

According to the researchers, in fake smiles it is often only the mouth muscles which move but, as humans, we often don’t spot the lack of movement around the eyes. The computer software can spot this much more reliably.

“An objective way of analysing whether or not a smile is genuine could help us develop improved interactions between computers and humans — for example in biometric identification,” he added. (IANS)