21st century: Evolution of Hindi and the role of technology

Written by: Akbar

Messages and information are like a traveler. Languages are means of conveyance for these travelers in their journey. Imagine a situation, they set out for a destination where their conveyance is not allowed to enter, then what other possible options are left for them? Undoubtedly, they will have to rely upon the means which are locally available to reach their destination. In other words, we can say that they must ride on the back of local resources (here local languages). Switching to local language becomes inevitable when it comes to conveying one’s message to the other language speaking masses. This process involves adoption of local languages and adaptation to them is localization. The process of localization seemed to be a bit difficult in its initial phase, but fortunately technology came out in our support at this point and helped us a lot to make it easy. As far as Hindi is concerned, lots of helpful tools are in use today. With these tools, internet users can not only write in Hindi but they can also convert other languages into their own languages. Thus, they are enabling themselves to understand other languages as well. Let’s try to understand the significance Hindi has gained in the field of localization and importance of the role technology has played in it.

The Internet makes it possible!

No doubt, the internet has entirely changed the world. Languages, too, are not intact from it. English was dominant enough during the early period of internet revolution. Due to this, the share of content in local languages on the internet was only 3 percent initially. However, now this share has gone up to 30 percent and undeniably the share of Hindi has also increased. But the concern was not only limited to growth. Although the volume of the content in Hindi was steadily growing, the matter of concern was how it can be made accessible to the users. It was like a situation where the inventory is full of goods, but the needy have no key to open the lock. Mobile keypads and computers were working in roman only. Technology started to play an important role from here and some tools like Indic keyboard and input tools have been developed. These tools enabled and encouraged the users to read and write in Hindi. Consequently, search volume of Hindi words on the internet shot up to twice after 2014. By using Devanagari font, users now search Hindi content and write Hindi on the internet without any hesitation.

From neglected to exalted

No one is to be blamed for the negligence of Hindi. Reality is, there was a prejudice about the Hindi speaking and writing individuals. Be it the core society we are living in or the world of cinema. They were considered as indigenous and monotonous. But there is a saying in Hindi ‘sab din hot na ek samaan’ (nothing remains in the same position forever), this happened with Hindi too. The age of technology brought the ‘golden days’ for Hindi. Once considered to be useless and the language of laymen today Hindi is used on mostly every platform, whether it is social media or open mic events, youth is proudly using Hindi. Apart from it, many cinema artists of the new generation like Vicky Kaushal, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao are using Hindi to connect with people. The bottom line of these things is that till yesterday, the person who wrote and spoke Hindi was considered as ‘Gangadhar (layman)’, and now he has become ‘Shaktimaan (Cool Dude)’ for them today. Interestingly, in the coming time, out of the generation that will start using the Internet, crores of people will be Hindi-speaking and they will use the Internet in the same language.The language census of 2011, adds more weight to this. According to this census, the number of people who speak and understand Hindi has increased by 25 percent as compared from 2001 to 2011. Now you can guess how much this number and the demand for Hindi content would have increased in the 10 years after that?

Increased expectations of brands from Hindi

Market is an unbelievable thing. You never know when a petty need could turn in to  market. No one might have thought in the beginning of this century that Hindi, which was confined only to books and poetic seminars, will become a necessity of the market in the coming future. If experts are to be believed, the machine tools market in India is expected to grow by 13 percent between the period of 2020 to 2024. Noticing the increased demand of Hindi, brands like Google and Netflix have also focused their attention to connect with people through new technologies. Last year, Google launched a machine learning model by the name of Multilingual Representation for Indian Languages (Muril). This model will be useful for students, researchers and those who are launching a startup. Using it, they will be able to establish synergy with 16 local languages including Hindi. Also, a Netflix team is working on automatic pre-processing technology to make its content available to Hindi speaking masses. The objective behind developing this technology is to reduce the issues associated with the translation of non-Hindi content and to convey the exact meaning of this content type to the Hindi speaking people. Now, you might have an idea why all the major brands are focusing on Hindi, the fourth most spoken language of the world. 

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