Localization for India - A Fairy Tale of 1,001 Languages

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We continue our trip through the world’s translation markets. Next stop: India!

Over 1.2 billion people are living in the seventh-largest and second-most populous country worldwide. Besides the two official languages Hindi and English, there are 22 recognized regional languages too. Adding dialects and minor languages more than 1000 languages are spoken throughout the country, seeming like the fairy tale of 1,001 languages.

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Language Diversity in larger Dimensions

Multilingualism and different ethnic groups are characteristic of India. The various languages spoken throughout the country belong to different language families. The major ones are Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 75% of Indians and Dravidian languages spoken by around 20% of the inhabitants. Austroasiatic and Sino-Tibetan languages combined with other minor language families and isolates complete the list.

A Census of India taken back 2001 gives detailed insights in India’s language diversity:

  • 122 major languages
  • 1599 other languages
  • 30 of these languages are spoken by more than a million native speakers
  • 122 languages are spoken by more than 10,000 Indians

India ruling the App Market

India has become one of the biggest players in the mobile app ecosystem. In terms of consumers and publishers the country is among the leading ones worldwide. Thanks to an increasing mobile internet penetration and a bursting number of internet users, India is on the fast track.

  • 2001: 7 million internet users
  • 2013: 200 million internet users
  • 2017: over 500 million estimated internet users
  • 2017: internet users include 314 million mobile internet users
  • 2018: more than 550 million internet users, accounting for the second largest online population in the world
“The class of 2018 will be more rural, older, more gender-equal, more mobile and more vernacular than their counterparts of today.”

Compared to other countries India has the third largest internet user base out of which more than 50% are mobile-only internet users. Risking a view on internet penetration India’s score of 19% is quite low compared to other countries.

Country Internet Penetration (2014)
Australia 89,6%
USA 86,8%
Japan 86,0%
Brazil 53,4%
China 46,0%
India 19,2%

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Localization beyond Doubt

The number of Indians owning mobile phones is greater than the number of Indians owning a computer. Thus, the necessity of app localization for India cannot be denied.

Referring to a statistic of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (2013), the number of total mobile phone connections stood at approximately 860 million. However, 125 million Indians haven’t had listed English as their primary language of communication. Summing up, nearly 600 million users have been limited in mobile usage due to language borders. In fine, localization removes these invisible language borders and is the key to new communities around the globe. Of course this is true for India as well.

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India

[3] http://www.zdnet.com/article/mobile-app-ecosystem-riding-localization-wave-in-india/

[4] http://yourstory.com/2015/07/mobile-internet-report-2015/

[5] http://yourstory.com/2015/02/internet-india-2018/