Transliteration is is the conversion of a text from one script to another. For example, typing something in the Roman alphabet, like "selam alem", and having it show up in fidel (Ethiopic script) as ሰላም ዓለም. This is a really convenient way for people who want to write in languages that use non-Roman scripts, to write on an ordinary computer which has a keyboard with roman letters.
Transliteration as a standalone tool
How to write Amharic or Tigrinya in Gmail, and in Google Docs:
To use Amharic transliteration directly while writing inside Gmail, Docs, Blogger, Sites, etc. you need to set it as an "input method" (all of the following works with Tigrinya as well as Amharic. Just select Tigrinya instead in the settings).
- Go to Gmail Settings (the little gear icon in the top right corner of the Gmail window) and click on Settings.
- In settings, under the "General" tab, in the "Language" section, click on "Show all language options" and then click on the checkbox to "Enable input tools".
- Click on the "Edit tools" link right next to it. A large window will pop-up with various languages on the left under Input Tools, select Amharic and move it over to the right column under "Selected input tools" using the big arrow, in the middle of the window, and click OK
- Save the settings: back on the settings page, make sure you scroll all the way down and click on Save
- Once you have done that, you will see the አ icon right next to the gear icon in the top right in Gmail. Just click on that icon whenever you want to switch to typing in Amharic
- Then when you type phonetically in roman letters, and as you finish each word, the corresponding text in Ethiopic shows up.
- You don't have to memorize any rules, just type naturally the words as they sound, and it will figure out the best transliteration. For example "negergn" becomes ነገርግን but "negeregn" becomes ነገረኝ. Notice that "gn" gives different results in the two cases. The transliteration shows up as you type, showing multiple candidates, and when you hit space at the end of the word, the top one is automatically chosen. You can also select the several other choices if the top one is not what you mean.
- This also works in Google Docs, Blogger, Google Sites and most Google products that have text input.