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Varnam is an Indian language transliteration library. GoVarnam is a brand new Go port of libvarnam with some core architectural changes.

It is stable to use daily as an input method. Try out different languages here:

Malayalam has really good support in Varnam. We welcome improvements of all languages in Varnam.

Installation & Usage

See instructions in website:



Proceed through these sections one by one:


See this video to understand more about Varnam (DebConf21):

Files & Folders

  • govarnam - The library files
  • main.go, c-shared* - Files that help in making the govarnam a C shared library
  • govarnamgo - Go bindings for the library. For use with other Go projects
  • cli - A CLI tool written in Go for Varnam. Uses govarnamgo to interface with the library.

Build Library

Requires minimum Go version 1.16.

This repository have 3 things :

  1. GoVarnam library
  2. GoVarnam Command Line Utility (CLI)
  3. Go bindings for GoVarnam

GoVarnam is written in Go, but to be a standard library that can be used with any other programming languages, we compile it to a C library. This is done by :

go build -buildmode "c-shared" -o

(Shortcut to doing above is make library)

The output is a shared library that can be dynamically linked in any other programming languages using its header file libgovarnam.h. Some examples :

Wait, it means we need to write another Go file to interface with GoVarnam library ! This is because we're interfacing with a C shared library and not the Go library directly. The govarnamgo acts as this interface for Go apps to use GoVarnam.

CLI (Command Line Utility)

After making you can make the CLI to use GoVarnam :

make cli

The command line utility (CLI) is written in Go, uses govarnamgo to interface with the library.

You can build both library and CLI with just make.

Language Support

Varnam uses a .vst (Varnam Symbol Table) file for language support. You can get it from it from schemes folder in a release. Place VST files in one of these locations (from high priority to least priority locations):

  • $PWD/schemes (PWD is Present Working Directory)
  • /usr/local/share/varnam/schemes
  • /usr/share/varnam/schemes

Now we can use varnamcli:

# Show linker the path to search for
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$(realpath ./):$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

./varnamcli -s ml namaskaaram

The ml above is the scheme ID. It should match with the VST filename.

You can link the library to /usr/local/lib to skip doing the export LD_LIBRARY_PATH every time:

sudo ln -s $PWD/ /usr/local/lib/

Now any software can find the GoVarnam library.


You can run tests (to make sure nothing broke) with :

make test

Use Varnam Live

It's good to install an IME to test changes you make to the library live.

Changes from libvarnam

  • ml.vst has been changed to add a new weight column in symbols table. Get the new ml.vst here. The symbol with the least weight has more significance. This is calculated according to popularity from corpus. You can populate a ml.vst with weight values by a Python script. See that in the subfolder. The previous ruby script is used for making the VST. That is the same. ml.vst from libvarnam is incompatible with govarnam.

  • patterns_content is renamed to patterns in GoVarnam

  • patterns table in learnings DB won't store malayalam patterns. Instead, for each input, all possible malayalam words are calculated (from symbols VARNAM_MATCH_ALL) and searched in words. These are returned as suggestions. Previously, pattern would store every pattern to a word. english => malayalam.

  • patterns in govarnam is used solely for English words. Computer => കമ്പ്യൂട്ടർ. These English words won't work out with our VST tokenizer cause the words are not really transliterable in our language. It would be kambyoottar => Computer

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