TRANSLATION INDUSTRY IN INDIA: TRENDS AND PROSPECTS
To many, it may come as a shock that in 2013 itself the translation industry in India was as big as a billion dollar (6500 Cr approx) market. Without any doubt, it is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of economy, increased from US$40 million in 2007 to US$900 million in 2013. The industry thrives on the ever-increasing demands of language content-creation and content-consumption in wide range of disciplines, from Information Technology to Manufacturing, Medicine to Advertising etc. Creation of digital content through translation and ensuring their availability across platforms, in a greater way, is instrumental in accelerating the enormous growth. This paper aims to deliberate the nature, current trends and scopes of the existing translation market in the light of various surveys and analysis presented by professionals and market analysts from different perspectives. It would further reflect upon the impact and contribution to the language community in terms of economy. Keywords: translation industry, Indian languages, translation and technology, software localisation, content-creation and contentconsumption, digital divide
How many languages are spoken by the 1.25 billion population of India?
It is a very complex question indeed. The official count by Census of India (2001) is 122 languages , while Ethnologue counts it to be 454.2 The survey recently conducted by People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) found that 780 languages3 are being used in the country. Some languages documented during the survey are so rare that the number of speakers does not even reach the double digit. In such a scenario, for many Indians, there is no option other than to be multilingual. Census of India reports also indicates another very interesting fact – the number of English Speakers in India. While English is the primary language for barely quarter of a million people (0.23 million to be precise), more than 86 million people listed it as their second language and another 39 million as their third language.
The total number of English speakers in India adds ups to be more than 125 million, which is more than twice the United Kingdom’s population. But, still this is just 10% of the total population of India. 22 major Indian languages are listed in the VIII schedule of the Constitution of India and they are spoken by more than 96% of the total population with the following language-wise distribution: Hindi – 41.03%, Bengali – 8.11%, Telugu – 7.19%, Marathi – 6.99%, Tamil – 5.91%, Urdu – 5.01%, Gujarati – 4.48%, Kannada – 3.69%, Malayalam – 3.21%, Odia/Oriya – 3.21%, Punjabi – 2.83%, Assamese – 1.28%, Maithili – 1.18%, Santhali – 0.63%, Kashmiri – 0.54%, Nepali – 0.28%, Sindhi – 0.25%, Konkani – 0.24%, Dogri – 0.22%, Manipuri – 0.14%, Bodo – 0.13% and Sanskrit – 0.01%.4 This indicates that more than 750 languages are spoken by less than 4% of the country’s population. Such a linguistic diversity of India acts as an underlying current for the fast growing translation industry