Understanding your regional users

Written by: Jay

Who is using our products? Who is reading the information we provide? Which section of people should be targeted through our advertisements? Who are availing our services? Only when such questions are answered, only then a language can be used skillfully to market products and services. Could you able to envisage a situation wherein Radios. Televisions and Mobiles are broadcasting the advertisements, News and notifications either in English or in any other language incomprehensible to the mass? Let us conceive a situation in which, commonly read articles and other information are written in ancient literary style. Now, how many of us could understand them effortlessly? Linguistic research reveals changing trend in languages for every 40 years.

Why Thirukkural, Silappadhigaaram and medical tips written by Sithargal are not directly readable but needs a tutor to learn from? The reason behind this is, they are written in a language which is not in contemporary usage. So there is a huge difference between the information written in one’s own language and in a different language. Twenty years back, in order to exist in internet one needs to know English and the person would have an audience only if their thoughts are communicated in English. 

Due to this reason, India which is home to more than 130+ crore population had a very little presence in the internet in those times. In a recently conducted survey, number of people using internet in their own language is increasing exponentially when compared to English users. When English users grow at 3% a year, first language users are growing more than 18% a year. Understandability in native language, cultural affinity, ignorance of other languages and lingual affinity are some of the reasons for the rise of vernacular languages in internet.

If we have the capacity to perceive the thoughts of native language user’s experience only then we could offer them better services. Most of the native language users can be categorized under these categories.

Aficionados:

This set of customers even though they are proficient in English still they like to use their software in their native languages. Such customers are interested in consuming content which is written in the purest form with very little or no transliterated words. They won’t accept even the most colloquially transliterated words. They want them to be replaced it with proper translated terminologies. If a software is exclusively used by such aficionados, complete translation would be the best way to localize it. Politicians, Orators, Lingual experts, Lingual Researchers, Language tutors, Professors can be categorized under this. They take a very active participation in creating target equivalents for scientific and technological terminologies. A Brand which wants to take its Products and services to the commoners who are positioned at the bottom of the pyramid will always choose a language which is formal and colloquial at the same time. 

Professionals:

While translating legal, Medical or Software related documents professionals expect that terminologies related to the field should be used. For Example, the peer approved industrial terminologies has to be used in purchase deeds, consent forms, mobile software program etc. Only then it can be well understood by the professionals in those industries. Mostly they have a format to be followed while writing such documents. Heading, Case No., Row no., signature of the witnesses and on the middle we could see descriptive passages describing the scenario or past events etc. While translating such documents it is important that Industry wide terminologies and format should to be used. For Instance, Suspension should be translated differently in an administrative setting and in a medical setting. Such Homonyms has to be carefully handled. They take different meaning in different contexts. A common word like “Set” has more than 500 meanings according to Oxford Dictionary. In such cases context of becomes more important. It has to be kept in mind while translation.

Urban Commoners:

Non English speaking urban commoners who are living in most part of the world, might not have a very deep academic knowledge of their own language and at the same time might not be well versed in Industry terminologies. Most of the companies keep them in mind while localizing advertisements, news and software. Most of urban commoners would not find it difficult if they encounter words which are used in their daily usage. Cycle, Mobile, Laptop and Bus will be used in English rather than in their own language. At the same time, they find it difficult when everything is written in English. If companies understand their lingual capacities it will be easier to strategize their approach. Products based on Artificial intelligence and voice searches are modelled based on their usages. Because this section of people has an optimal purchasing power. Many products are designed for them. If the usage of language is very classical they might easily become disinterested. They might be struggling to read and understand them. It is better to be careful while creating their experiences.

Rural Commoners:

Rural dwellers might find some difficulty when encountering new technical words such as Geo location, Vibrate mode, Display, submit etc. But they would be very conversant in understanding the professional terminologies available within their sphere. Indian rural population outnumber its urban counterparts. Even though products are targeted towards urban dwellers, companies want them to be used across the nation. If this strategy is not pursued companies not only lose their market share across the nation but also will lose the potential revenue which should have been generated out of it. So taking the new technical products to the rural commoners is the most formidable challenge standing against the marketers and localization experts. Either too much of transliteration or too much of classical translation will be incomprehensible for them. In order to achieve that we should be leaning away from the rigid academic scientific standards of the target language and source language. A right mix of colloquial, technical use of language has to be mixed with an engaging way of delivering it.

If we know whom are talking to, then we can easily determine how we should be talking to them. The person whom we are talking with decides the way we communicate. The goal of a message shouldn’t just be how that is communicated, it should also encompass how it is understood i.e. design strategy should also include the receiver’s perception of the message. This is going to be a very important skill determining the success for language experts.  

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