Translating Indian Languages

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Translating Indian languages has many pitfalls that are easily avoided. Find out more about our approach.

1. English is an official language of India

Before thinking about translation into Indian languages, you should consider whether you actually need translation. This is because English is an official language of India, and is widely read and understood. Western products and businesses are normally held in high esteem, so you could even be devaluing the perception of your product if you provide a translation. Of course we will be very happy to translate into 27 leading Indian languages and dialects, if that’s what you want.

2. Adapt your text

Having said that English is an official language, you should consider your audience, and probably adapt your text. For many Indians English is not their daily language of habitual use, and you may need to simplify or alter a US or UK English text to suit your audience. This also helps when translating. In general, simpler and shorter sentences are easier and clearer to translate.

3. Which language do you need?

This is where things can get complicated. Not so long ago a leading UK retailer enquired about translating all their international packaging into Hindi. Is this a good idea? Not necessarily. Although Hindi is very widely spoken in India, it is not universal. If you only translate into Hindi, you could potentially be offending speakers of other major Indian languages.

So how do you know which languages you need? India has a federal system, a bit like the US. An individual state may require one or more Indian languages. This is a starting point, but also talk to your distributors or agents, or staff you have in-country. There is no “one-size fits all” solution on Indian languages. It depends on your product, where and how you intend to sell in India, and of course on your intended customers.

Contact us for a quote on Indian language translation.