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    Principles for Simplifying Translation of Marathi Terms in Mobile Phones

    India HCI 2010/ IDID 2010

    India HCI 2010/ Interaction Design & International Development 2010
    20 - 24 March 2010
    Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Mumbai, India


    Nikhil Welankar, Anirudha Joshi and Kirti Kanitkar


    As technology products reach a larger portion of the world's population the importance of localization increases. In the last five years, mobile phones in India have reached many "first-time" users of information and communication technologies. These users have limited exposure to English and are comfortable in communicating in another Indian language. This preference is visible for the language spoken at home, outside home, in their choice of newspapers, and TV channels. However, we observed that many users prefer to have their mobile phones in English. One reason for this could be that there is much scope for improvement in the translation of the interfaces in Indian languages - Marathi terms used in current phones are not easily understood by users. We evaluated mobile phone models that are currently available in the Indian market to identify the problems with Marathi localisation. From these problems, we derived seven principles that can simplify the translation of terms: Use conversational terms, minimize use of formal, Sanskritised terms. Retain familiar English terms by transliterating them. Avoid transliterating English terms if users are not familiar with them. Avoid abbreviations. Translate commands as verbs or nouns + verbs, not as only nouns - a common mistake. Localisation causes grammatical mistakes - translate whole sentences, not just individual words. ‘Cool commands’ and metaphors are lost in translation - recreate new, culturally appropriate metaphors and use them consistently. Using these principles, we created a set of equivalent terms that we believe are simpler to use. We conducted three experiments with the help of three successively higher fidelity prototypes to compare the new set with the old one. Our findings show that users preferred and performed better with the set of terms derived from the principles above compared to the original terms. Users also expressed their willingness to use Marathi in their mobile phones if simpler and conversational terms are provided.


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