Language and Translation Industry of India: A Historical and Cultural Perspective

(XVIII FIT World Congress 2008, Shanghai, China)

Ravi Kumar President Indian Translators Association, New Delhi, India E-mail:

A Glance at Languages of India
As per Census 1961 count- 1652 mother tongues belonging to five different language families. Apart from them 527 mother tongues were considered unclassifiable at that time. As per Census 2001 count -1635 mother tongues were classified as 1635 rationalized mother tongues and 1957 names which were treated as µunclassified¶ and relegated to the µother¶ mother tongue category. The 1635 rationalized mother tongues were further classified into 234 mother tongues and grouped under 122 languages.

Dravidian: 17 languages.01%.11%. with a total population of 1. divided into Indo-Aryan (21). with a total population of 76. with a total population of 20. .82%. Iranian (2) and Germanic (1).A Glance at Languages of India 122 languages have been further grouped under Indo-European: 24 languages. with a total population of 0. Tibeto-Burman: 66 languages with a total population of 0.01%.89%. Austro-Asiatic: 14 languages. Semito-Hermitic: 1 language.

A Glance at Languages of India .

Marathi. namely Assamese. Urdu. Tamil. Dogri and Bodo are spoken by 96.56% of the population of the country and the remaining 3. Bengali. Santhali. Nepali. Sindhi. Punjabi. Konkani. Manipuri.44% of the population speak the rest of the languages. Telugu. Gujarati. Kannada. . Hindi. Maithili. Sanskrit. Malayalam.A Glance at Languages of India Twenty-two Indian languages. Oriya. Kashmiri.

Persian and Arabic. on the other hand languages of the scholars have been different than those for common mass. . Sanskrit. many scholars had mastered Sanskrit. Throughout the history. Tamil and Ardhmagadhi. scholars have been concerned about use of simple language to reach common mass in their local languages. During medieval period.A Legacy of Multi-lingualism Ancient writers used to switch between Pali.

is made of many mini-Indias. Mobility between different states within India makes it mandatory to be multi-lingual. . with its States and Union Territories.A Legacy of Multi-lingualism and Bi-lingualism Linguistically India. Those who are multilingual constitute some 20% of the total population.

administration. Sharma) . an individual may use a particular language at home. and still another in certain formal domains such as education.A Legacy of Recorded Bilingualism ³One of the significant features of Indian bilingualism is that it is complementary. For example.C. and the like´. another in the neighborhood and the bazaar. (J.

Santhali. Malayalam. Since then. Manipuri and Nepali. Tamil. . Maithili and Dogri. and most recent one to include Bodo. once to include Sindhi. Oriya. Gujarati. The 100th Constitutional Amendment which added these four languages into the Eighth Schedule was supported by all the 338 members present in the Parliament. Marathi. It has been stated that claims of 33 more languages for inclusion are under consideration. this has been expanded thrice. Hindi. and Urdu) into its Eighth Schedule in 1950. Kannada. Punjabi.Language Policies in India The Constitution of India listed fourteen languages (Assamese. Telugu. Bengali. at another time to include Konkani. Sanskrit. Kashmiri.

. "it does appreciate that "India has maintained its extensive and well-catalogued linguistic diversity". (when) about half of the approximately 6000 languages spoken in the world are under threat. seriously endangered or dying. ..Language Policies in India It is worth mentioning the encouraging reports by UNESCO that has appreciated India¶s stand on "maintaining linguistic diversity´ .

Digital Divide It is interesting to note that though the Information Technology boom has brought a revolution to India and Indian computer wizards are making waves in the Silicon Valley. yet the Digital Divide continues to plague the nation. .the "digital divide" resulting in the disparity in access to information and to the means of communication in 21st Century India. The pace at which Indian society is trying to absorb these technologies through its organs such as language has added one more divide to those already in existence .

5 per 1000 people but at the same time. .Digital Divide Computer penetration in India is estimated to be 7. the internet is able to reach only about one percent of the total population of the country.

known of development of super computers . Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) is government of India run organization involved in research and development of computers.Government Initiatives The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) is the initiative of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. TDIL has been mandated to bridge the digital divide by developing IT tools in local languages in India.

Mobile Digital Library Chitraksharika Lekhika On-Line Hindi Vishwakosh On Line IT Terminology Swarnakriti .Role of TDIL and CDAC Translation Support System GyanNidhi Dware Dware Gyan Sampada .

IBM. Hindi. . a major search engine like Google has already started offering search possibilities in Bengali. and there are a series of other major players eyeing Indian localization markets. many private players including Indian and multinational giants like Microsoft. Wipro.Private Initiative In addition. Needless to say. are developing software and applications in Indian languages. Infosys. Airtel. TCS. Reliance. Tamil and Telugu. Vodafone etc. Marathi.

The earliest efforts date from the late 80s and early 90s. the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Government of India). University of Hyderabad. IIT (Hyderabad). Prominent among these are the projects at IIT Kanpur. AUKBC Centre (Chennai) and the Jadavpur University (Kolkata). has been instrumental in funding these projects. NCST Mumbai and CDAC Pune. The Technology Development in Indian Languages (TDIL). a few more projects have been initiated²at IIT (Bombay).CAT Tools Machine Translation in India is relatively young. . an initiative of the Department of IT. Since the mid and late 90¶s.

CAT Tools Anglabharat (and Anubharati)MT Anusaaraka MT MaTra HAMT Mantra MT UCSG-based English-Kannada MT UNL-based MT between English. Hindi and Marathi MT Tamil-Hindi Anusaaraka and English-Tamil MT English-Hindi MAT for news sentences .

Microsoft .IBM BhashaIndia .CAT Tools ± Private Initiative English-Hindi Statistical MT .

Translation and localization market World .

Translation and localization market India The Nasscom-Deloitte study on Indian IT Industry: Impacting the Economy and Society says the IT/ITES industry's contribution to the country's GDP has increased to a share of 5. in 2008. And with a growth of 27 per cent in 2007.2 percent in 2007. as against 1.43 billion. . the Indian ITES market is set to cross US$ 25.2 percent in 1998.

Translation and Localization Market . and according to the growth pattern depicted by Common Sense Advisory if we take India's share as 5% of the world market.India Based on the reports of NASSCOM that India is sharing 5.2% of the ITES market. in terms of activities. as follows: . value of $500 millions which may be summed. currently Indian language market size may be taken at approx.

. all use the services of Language Professionals in a big way. Agencies. Corporate houses. E-books. Government bodies. Software companies.SWOT Analysis Strenght Presence of IT giants. Institutions / Universities / Diplomatic Missions. IT service providers and the BPO boom create a high demand for Language Professionals. etc. BPOs. Publishing Houses.

wordfast. XLIFF editor . SDLX.SWOT Analysis Weakness Translators are not conversant with CAT tools No stringent quality control processes Use of CAT tools has been on the rise : Like TRADOS. Across. etc. are costly Cost effective alternatives can be Heartsome.

Marathi. not only for Indian languages (Hindi.) but rather for all languages in combination with English as well. etc. Urdu. Bengali. one of the largest markets in the world. Telugu. Tamil. . Gujarati.SWOT Analysis Opportunities Opportunities abound in India.

. Global competition is a major factor. This fairly unique situation of an Asian country working extensively with foreign languages makes the foreign language Indian translator vulnerable to hostility not only from the ³traditional´ opponents of ³outsourced´ work but. more disturbingly.SWOT Analysis Threat Indian Translators involved in foreign language translation activities face relatively more challenges than their counterparts involved in translating Indian languages. from colleagues within the nation who feel that it is only their work which has ³legitimacy´.

acting as a communicator between government and translation community of India.Role of Indian Translators Association With newly formed National Translation Mission by Government of India. Assist in joint ventures Unite translators Create awareness Network with national and international bodies and forums Actively participate in language and translation related activities at national level as well as international level Fight for the cause of translators community of India as well as world in general . ITAINDIA shall play a major role.

Accustomed to economize as a philosophy of life. to adapt and upgrade skills and to use new technologies but the baseline is set.End note The unique cultural diversity of the Language and Translation Industry of India thus provides rich prospects for mutually enriching collaborations across the globe. a lot still remains to be done by individuals and companies. Even with all these valiant endeavors. thus bringing a two-fold benefit in an era of soaring prices and plummeting human relations. the Indian translation industry preserves age old humanistic Asian values in an age of cut throat competition. and I am sure the existing synergy will translate into great opportunities for those who look towards India as potential investment destination. . to promote this nascent industry and incorporate the required changes. as well as by the government.

resources .


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