Frequently Asked QuestionsImage

1. AHA! You are proposing a Single Language? Hasn't it been tried before?

Ans: Absolutely NOT! Let us be absolutely clear about our philosophy. At Ekalipi we absolutely love the diversity of the world's languages. We do find it important to distinguish between the language and the tool, namely the script, which is used for communicating the intent. What we are saying is that the language and the script used to render the content are separate.

In some instances the script is unique to the language. In most instances a script is shared between multiple languages (albeit with some modifications). Historically languages have stayed with their original scripts. However there are instances where a language uses more than one script e.g. Serbian which uses Cyrillic and Latin, Konkani uses 5 scripts Devanagari, Kannada, Malayalam, Persian, and Roman. Scripts have been replaced too. Hungarian has adopted 3 different scripts through history. Turkey changed from Arabic to a modified Latin script in 1929.

Let us be absolutely clear about our philosophy. At Ekalipi we absolutely love the diversity of the world's languages. We do find it important to distinguish between the language and the tool, namely the script that is used for communicating the intent.

2.How many scripts are out there?

Ans:The total population is 9 billion. Some individuals have probably been double counted. It is interesting to note that over 40% of the population is using non-Latin scripts.

Even within Latin, there is a large variation in the number of characters in the alphabet and the sound(s) represented by each character. The numbers range from 26 in English to 44 in Turkish and many in between.

3.I don’t know. Learn a new script?

Ans:It is true that you have to learn a new script. However we have worked hard to make sure that the script is very easy to learn and use.

There are only 15 characters that are not in the English alphabet. The 24 "English" characters represent the most common root sound of the character as they are used in English. We estimate that it will take 1-2 hours for a person familiar with a phonetic script to be proficient in this script. For a person not familiar with a phonetic script we estimate that it will take about 3-4 hours. Compare this investment to the lifetime benefits that you receive. And remember that you are proficient in your current script only because you have spent many years of your life mastering it.

4.Why don’t you just use IPA instead?

Ans:IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is a very complex scheme that contains 107 letters, 31 diacritics to modify them and 19 additional signs to specify the length, tone, stress and intonation.

And all this is just for English. Each language needs its own IPA. Ekalipi on the other hand believes in the well-known Pareto principle (the 80-20) rule. We think that Ekalipi can provide up to 95% coverage. We feel that the 39 characters in Ekalipi today (may be expanded to 48) is sufficient for most languages. We feel that most of us will not be willing to use something that requires learning more than 48 characters. In short IPA is probably good for linguists, scientists to do their research into linguistics. For the rest of us Ekalipi is the solution.

5.What’s the problem with English and the Latin/Roman script?

Ans:English is notoriously inconsistent in its relationship between spelling and pronunciation. The situation is especially tragic because the script instead of easing comprehension actually becomes a hindrance. English language spelling can trip up not only those learning English but also those whose native language is English (even the experts).

English speakers now talk in one language but write a different one.It is estimated that the average child in English speaking countries (UK, US, Australia etc.) is 2 years behind their counterpart in countries where the language and script are consistent it one another. What a colossal waste! It is high time English adopted a script like Ekalipi. If you don't want to learn it for yourself, learn it and teach it to them for your kids future. This article explains it far better than I can: How the English language is holding kids back Note: The article is focused exclusively on English. Remember that Ekalipi goes way beyond that. It is one solution for all the world's languages.

6.What’s the problem with consistent languages-scripts such as Hindi-Devanagari ?

Ans:Devanagari and scripts such as Gujarati and Tamil are in principle very similar to Ekalipi. However there are some limitations which led us to conclude that they are not the right choice when compared to Ekalipi.

  • Devanagari uses character modifiers that are above and below the central line of characters (even if modifier does not exist the space has to be left for such a possibility. This means that either one uses 3 times the space used by a linear script or the main characters become one third the size (very difficult to read).
  • The scripts have multiple modifier characters for the same sound making them difficult to learn.
  • The scripts do not add new characters to support sounds that are present in a foreign language (one exception is the Marathi version of Devanagari which has added two vowels to support sounds from European languages. It also uses special symbol (.) to distinguish sounds in Arabic).
  • The scripts are used by about 300 million people. That’s a lot but it represents only 4% of the world's population. So 96% of the population will have to learn these characters.
  • The characters are complex. Writing and typing is a chore.

7.What’s the problem with scripts for languages like Chinese or Japanese?

Ans:Chinese has thousands of characters that are difficult for both the sender and receiver to master.

In the case of Ekalipi since the focus is on the spoken language the problem is not surmountable. There could be an issue with inflection/intonation changing the meaning of a word but we are working on a common solution for both Chinese and some African languages.

8.Why Now ?

Ans:Modern technology now makes it possible to actually bring this idea to fruition. Its success however depends on you, the reader using it in your daily life and evangelizing this idea to your friends and colleagues.

Ekalipi is expected to be operational by April 2014. Since our developers, supporters and stake holders are spread all over the world, we plan on using this web site to share all vital information, pictures of our innovation, progress, and news.

9.Why have you chosen these particular characters for Ekalipi?

Ans:These are the characters used in Ekalipi:

  1. If the root sound of the character on the US “qwerty” keyboard is needed by Ekalipi it is used. They are the following 23 characters: W, E, R, T, Y, U, O, P, A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, Z, C, V, B, N and M.
  2. Since Ekalipi has 13 characters, the number row is used for 11 characters (đ, ā, @, å, Δ, ŧ, ö, ɉ, λ, ø, č)
The fonts for the English-Latin and Greek alphabet are supported by most PC and phone manufacturers natively. The choice of these particular characters was made to ensure that the user would not have to install custom font libraries to accommodate the Ekalipi keyboard. If you have any recommendations/suggestions for different characters, please let us know.

10.Will the Ekalipi characters change in the future?

Ans:We expect that most of the characters will not change but we do expect that a few will. We are targeting 31 December 2015 as the date for finalizing our character set. After that changes will be minimal. Note- The sounds will remain the same.

So please let us know before December 2015 if you would like to see any changes (add/change/delete) and let us know why. We will carefully examine your suggestions and implement them if they are feasible.
Here are some criteria we would like you to consider:
  • Simple and easy to read.
  • Easy to handwrite and to type.
  • Conforms to the qwerty keyboard layout as much as possible.
  • Does not require special fonts to be downloaded and installed.

11.Use of capital letters makes it hard to read Ekalipi. It seems like Ekalipi is “shouting” out loud.

Ans:It is a valid concern. A number of us are annoyed when we receive an email from someone with all the letters in capitals. It seems that they are shouting or angry.

We are experimenting with lower case letters and making capitals optional. Please study the current keyboard layout and the suggested lower case keyboard and let us know which one you prefer.

Depending on your votes, we will standardize the keyboard layout.

12.I am reading out Ekalipi text in a new language but it doesn’t sound natural?

Ans:There are three things at work here, pronunciation, dialect and accent. These are the important differences between these terms and they are often confused:

  • An accent is ‘a distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class.Accent also refers to the stress or emphasis that has to be placed on a letter in a particular word. Having a different accent does not mean that you are speaking a language incorrectly.
  • Dialect originally meant a variation from the parent language. For example, Italian from Latin. In modern times it means a variation from a major language such as American English or Australian English. Even within the UK there can be different dialects of English.
  • Pronunciation is the manner in which a word should be articulated for the better understanding of it.
Ekalipi handles both pronunciation and dialect as long as the text is written to mimic the spoken words. Getting the accent right requires either intensive training or moving to a place where everyone speaks in the particular accent and mimicking the locals. The bottom line is that Ekalipi can get you two thirds of the way to sounding natural.

13.What is the point in learning and using Ekalipi if my friends and colleagues don’t know it?

Ans:This is the classic chicken vs egg situation. Until enough people learn and use Ekalipi it will not have the critical mass. We hope that you like the Ekalipi concept.

It is now up to you to become Ekalipi evangelists. Tell your friends and family about it and encourage them to learn and use it. Convince them that the hour or two that they spend learning it will bring a lifetime of rewards. We are working hard to make training materials available to make this task easy.

14.I already use a transliteration tool or I type my language in Roman script? Why should I use Ekalipi?

Ans:Transliteration and typing in Roman script are currently in vogue because so far they are the only solutions that people are aware of.

Transliteration is difficult to use and typing in Roman involves a lot of guesswork on the part of the reader. Why not use Ekalipi the perfect solution instead? We can promise you that once you start using it, you will agree and so will your friends.

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