English typing computer

I’m in an Internet cafe in Mumbai. I tried to install Firefox with the Marathi interface, but on the computers here fonts for languages of India are not installed. That’s right – on computers in India fonts for languages of India are not installed. Hence, installing Firefox in Marathi failed at the very first stage, because the fonts are needed for the installation wizard.

Actually, I’m not surprised that these fonts are not installed, because it’s not my first time in India. I know that it happens a lot in this country. I would install them, but I don’t have a permission.

I find it incredibly weird – and tragic – that so many people in India don’t even try to use computers in any language except English. The one curious thing that I did find was an “English typing computer” shop. It’s just a place where you can use a computer to write Word documents in Hindi or Marathi, but using an English-based transliteration keyboard rather than the standard Indian Devanagari InScript keyboard, because they find transliteration keyboards easier. Of course, they could just install such a keyboard layout on their computers… but they prefer to go to an “English typing computer” shop.

We, software internationalization people, have so much more work to do.

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3 Responses to “English typing computer”


  1. 1 Simon 2012-11-05 at 00:25

    It’s not actually that surprising. My company briefly demoed to several potential clients in India a few years ago, and it was interesting to find that they had no interest in translating the UI – with so many local dialects in use throughout India, they feel it’s just easier to use English for business purposes.

    • 2 aharoni 2012-11-05 at 05:19

      I hear this claim all the time, and reply that Europe has a lot of dialects, too, and nevertheless you’ll find French computers in France, Italian in Italy, Spanish in Spain, German in Germany and so on. (Also, in both cases these are languages, not dialects. People who don’t know what dialects are shouldn’t use the word.)

      • 3 Simon 2012-11-05 at 23:54

        I agree, the phenomenon doesn’t seem to be the case in Europe – potential clients there *do* speak English (and very well, based on my recent vacation there), but wouldn’t find it acceptable to not have a native translation.

        But in India, it was different – they felt that having an English version of our product was more useful to them than one translated into the local languages (primarily Punjabi, Hindi and Telugu, in the states we were dealing with).


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