If you’re in India, you are likely to get an overdose of the word “only.” It pops up everywhere, as in “I’m here only.” There are other Indianisms, “like this only.” Visitors to India can find it quaint or exasperating, depending on the situation. If you’ve had enough of this already, you can try a reverse Indianism too – “Don’t eat my head.” The problem of deciphering Indian English isn’t confined to visitors. In the digital world, machines have to deal with it as well.
Amazon’s Alexa speaker can handle requests like, “Please add jeera, atta, and haldi to my shopping list.”Google has a Hinglish-speaking virtual assistant, although it has yet to launch Google Home speakers in India. Apple wants Siri to get the cultural nuances of dialog in India, and has a Hinglish keyboard for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. So how can a business overcome multiple language barriers to target these hundreds of millions of non-English-speaking or even Hinglish-speaking consumers? One strategy is to zero in on the most used Indian languages. As many as 90 per cent of the 700 million literates in India can read and write at least one of India’s 12 major local languages. And among those, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Bengali are the top five Indian languages that any business or app developer localizing digital products for the Indian market should not ignore, according to the first Digital Indian Language report (PDF) published by Reverie Language Technologies. These five regional languages “represent more than 75 per cent of the total digitally engaged audience who prefer to communicate in their native languages,” Reverie notes. On the other end are Dogri, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Nepali, Sanskrit, and Santhali – which Reverie calls “digitally endangered languages that would need support from handset manufactures and state governments to preserve for future generations.”
This is an edited excerpt from Tech in Asia. You can read the original article here