Real reasons why vernacular content hasn’t taken off in 10 years
I installed Google translate on ChasingTheStorm to reach out to the readers from non English speaking countries in a better way.
Now I do not know how to read or write (say) Thai or Mandarin. I only know Hindi. So I tried checking Hindi translation of the site. What followed got me Laughing my ass off and rolling on the floor with laughter (Try translating this)
For those readers, who understand Hindi- here are some screenshots:
Well let me be honest- it is a good try. While technology has corrupted and ‘insensitivized’ me so much that I become unforgiving when the code does not understand that when I said ‘Space’ I did not mean ‘outer space’; and when I say ‘Steve Jobs’ I did not mean Steve ‘employment’, I do give a service its due.
A brief analysis of why has local language not taken off yet (and why it will- pretty soon)
Some reasons why local language content scene sucks in countries with English speaking populace:
- No burning or immediate need for local language content. English is the business language and you can ‘get by’ with using English. Similar mention on this post.
- Translation services are not very mature. Still. Google seems to realize that software needs more artifical intelligence to ‘learn’ over time- and has incorporated some social features on the translation service. However,though Google is trying as much as it can, it seems- with collaboration (have a better translation? Suggest) and social tools, it is slow burn, and who knows how effective till now
- Translation today is very literal and too ‘language purist’. Internet by its nature has been more informal – and no one gives a shit to formalities (deliberately put that phrase here- smirking sadistically to see what the translation throws up for this). We need translation as ‘normal way of speaking’.
Made me think. I was in India last year to address a gathering of senior marketing people in a global tech firm- and this question came up- what I thought of vernacular content and whether 2008 (Yes last year) will finally be the year of local language content on the internet. In a country like India, where there are about 29 languages and more than 1500 colloquial iterations/accents, it was a pertinent question. And it still cries out loud. My answer for last year was that the time has not arrived yet. But this year might be different.
Some reasons why the local language content will be popular in Asia soon:
- From the previous section: No burning or immediate need for local language content. Having said that- that was the case till last year. President Obama’s effective use of the Internet got politicians thinking. They want more people listen to them. Politicians want to engage local public. And they know internet is key to reach them today.
- Content shift from text to video. Now don’t get me wrong- text still will be very very important and the cornerstone of the internet. BUT content will move beyond text. With the rise of video and audio and other audio visual elements of the web, content might not be at the mercy of such tools. That simplifies things. Does not require translation to begin with.
- Multimedia does not require specialist software written OR any hardware upgrade (like new keyboards)
- Bandwidth is not getting any expensive. As a matter of fact it is getting cheaper. And ubiquitous. And easily available. Vodcast anyone? Again- louder – Seesmic or Twitter?
- We have seen some uptake in local language blogging. There already are people in, say, Malaysia, who blog in Bahasa. We will see non English podcasts and video stuff will proliferate.
- Internet Penetration is deepening- and with it, the Internet is available to the non-main cities. Typically these have more native language/mother tongue speaking people. With the people comes the need. With the need, come platforms and tools.
That’s about it. In the end- marketers have started using local language to stand out from the clutter and to target better. What might fail them is- execution and understanding of local language nuances: