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Not just Hinglish: Businesses eyeing India market must ace these languages

Amazon's Alexa speaker can handle requests like, 'Add jeera, atta, haldi to my shopping list', reports Tech in Asia

Malavika Velayanikal | Tech in Asia 

English can take a back seat
Representative image of a smartphone with Hindi keyboard

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 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.” has a Hinglish-speaking virtual assistant, although it has yet to launch Home speakers in India. wants Siri to get the cultural nuances of dialog in India, and has a keyboard for the and 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 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 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

First Published: Fri, November 10 2017. 09:37 IST