Random House Setting Up House in India

According to this article Random House is going to set up a publishing operation in India.

“It’s time a publishing house like Random has a presence in India. It will be publishing for India and in India,” Simon Littlewood, international director, The Random House Group.

Speaking Hinglish

The International Herald Tribune reports that English and Hindi have, for a variety of reasons, merged into a sort of lingua franca in a country with more than a dozen popular languages. Hindi may be the national language of India, but it is not the only language, which makes it politically sensitive. However, if you water down Hindi with English, it becomes much more palatable to a wider audience.

According to the article, ” in the mid-1990s, cable TV started rapidly spreading across India and indigenous music channels started using a mixture of Hindi and English in their programming. What began as spoofs on the English used by Indians were soon transformed into a fizzy mix of the two languages. Suddenly, Hindi with a smattering of English acquired status.”

What I find particularly fascinating is that this new way of speaking, often referred to as Hinglish, is playing a growing role in advertising. According to the article, advertising has “started shifting from pure Hindi or English advertisements to Hindi with a few words of English thrown in. Thus the Pepsi slogan is “yeh dil maange more” (“ask for more”) while Coke relies on “life ho to aisi” (“life should be like that”).

Red Hat to Add Support for Indian Languages

Linux developer Red Hat says it will add five new languages to its next generation of enterprise software – all Indian languages. Equally important, Red Hat plans to offer customer phone support in those languages.

Although the company didn’t say which languages it plans to support (India has 15 national languages), this is a positive sign. It brings the total language count that Red Hat supports to 15.

According to ComputerWeekly, India “sees a great opportunity in India for Linux desktop deployments in education, e-governance, and small and medium-sized enterprise.”

Microsoft, to my knowledge, does not offer enterprise software in any Indian languages. Like I’ve written in the past, should Microsoft fall from its mighty perch, lack of localized software will be one of the reasons why.

Outsourcing: Looking Beyond India

This InfoWorld article cites a recent Gartner report that predicts that India will lose market share “from its current 80 percent to about 55 percent by 2007.”

Who’s going to be nipping at India’s heels? Countries to watch include Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and China.

Here’s what I found most fascinating about the article. Apparently Indian outsourcing firms are now outsourcing their outsourced work to other markets. Here’s the quote (FYI: BPO stands for Business Process Outsourcing, the business buzzword de jour):

The growth of the BPO business in other offshore locations is also likely to be fueled by Indian companies setting up operations in other countries. The BPO initiative in Sri Lanka, for example, is led by two Indian companies setting up operations there

    Globalization truly is a double-edged sword.

    Microsoft’s Global Blunders

    CNET News features an entertaining article on some of the creative ways that Microsoft has offended people around the world through cultural and linguistic blunders. These anecdotes come from a recent presentation by a Microsoft executive, who is probably now being reprimanded.

    Here are two blunders from the article that are bound to be endlessly repeated by localization vendors and consultants (such as me) for years to come:

    Microsoft has also managed to upset women and entire countries. A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between “not specified,” “male” or “bitch,” because of an unfortunate error in translation.

    When coloring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft colored eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds. “It cost millions,” [Microsoft’s Tom] Edwards said.

    In Microsoft’s defense, mistakes like these are endemic to most companies. Expanding into new markets always looks a great deal easier than it is.

    If there is one lesson to be taken from Microsoft, it is that poorly managed localization is almost always more expensive in the end than no localization at all.

    PS: Here’s another Microsoft anecdote from the Taipei Times:

      One mistake that caused catastrophic offence was a game called Kakuto Chojin, a hand-to-hand fighting game. The fighting went on with rhythmic chanting in the background which in reviewing the game Edwards noticed appeared to be Arabic.

      “I checked with an Arabic speaker in the company who was also a Muslim about what the chant meant and it was from the Koran. He went ballistic. It was an incredible insult to Islam,” Edwards said.

      He asked for the game to be withdrawn but it was issued against his advice in the US in the belief that it would not be noticed.

      Three months later, the Saudi Arabian government made a formal protest. Microsoft withdrew the game worldwide.