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Rescuing Punjabi online

chandigarh Updated: Sep 12, 2013 10:42 IST
Usmeet Kaur

Despite the elders’ belief that Punjab’s youth is unaware of the richness of its mother tongue, there are increasing numbers of Punjabi youngsters from all over the world who prefer to interact in Punjabi on social networking sites such as Facebook. However, they face a problem in its correct usage and spellings. Attempting to offer a solution to this problem is Moga boy Shahbaz Singh, all of 16, who has developed a software called Gurakhar.

At the launch of the unique software at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, Chandigarh on Wednesday, which was inaugurated by famous Punjabi writer and poet Surjit Patar, Shahbaz said, “Gurakhar (version 1.0) is the first ever online Punjabi spell-check utility that can be used free of cost.

This project is a part of Offstage Creations’ social and community development programmes. Gurakhar checks for misspelt words in Punjabi text (in various fonts) and then suggests the correct spellings.

In its advanced mode, Gurakhar also gives more information about the selection and use of proper words.”

Shabaz, a student of DM College, Moga, says the team that created the software comprises ‘advisors’ including eminent scholars of Punjabi language who form the editors’ team and would contribute to the software’s development. The youngster explains that the last authentic work on Punjabi spellings was done by Harkirat Singh and his fellows under a project of Punjabi University, Patiala. “With the increased usage of Punjabi language online, a spell check software is the need of the hour,” he adds.

(Moga boy Shahbaz Singh, 16, has prepared Punjabi language’s first of its kind online spell-check software called Gurakhar. Rajnish Katyal/HT)

Meanwhile, Patar appreciated Shahbaz’s efforts in aiding the growth of Punjabi language by saying, “If a boy from this generation has thought of something as unique as this online software, then this language can never die.” Patar added that for the promotion of any language, it is imperative that the new generation adds “freshness of its own time.” “Devnagari and Gurmukhi are two scripts with systematic words. They are unlike English, which at times is confusing with one word having many meanings. Gurakhar will definitely help keep Gurmukhi intact because the correct usage of spellings would help the user speak the words in the right way,” he said.

Shahbaz says his aim behind the inception of Gurakhar, which took a year-and-a-half to be created
and has a database of 1,10,000 words, is to make Punjabi language more user-friendly in the world of computing.

“And that can be done only with the creation of more Punjabi writing tools,” says the tech-savvy lad who claims to have had no formal training in software development. “However, web development is my hobby. Also, being the son of Pali Bhupinder Singh (author/Punjabi teacher/theatre and films director and project designer of Gurakhar), I have an obvious inclination for my mother tongue,” he smiles and expresses hope that more youngsters would come up with similar unique ideas.

To learn more about the software, log on to and type any text in Punjabi by selecting different fonts available. After the spell check, the content can be picked and pasted wherever needed.