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Special Content

Volume-48, 24 February- 2 March, 2018


Opportunities Aplenty With Native Language Skills 
  International Mother Tongue Day -
21st Feb 2018

Santosh K Joy 

One of the silent revolutions underway in India today is the native language movement and ‘Bharatavani’ project is the consummation of the long pending dream of bringing together the wealth of Indian native languages under one umbrella. When the world is celebrating the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on the 21st of February, we finally have something to be proud of. IMLD is a worldwide annual observance to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism.

The Bharatavani portal today is the one stop place of digital dictionaries of vanishing Indian languages. With more than 1500 Indian languages in our country, the project underway under the aegis of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry through its Central Institute for Indian Languages (CIIL) is first aiming at publishing content in 121 Indian languages and further the project with dialects and other spoken forms of communications. The portal is also powered to provide online classes for interested people to learn these tongues. 

Government of India recognizes 22 languages for the national language status. The languages are, Bengali, Hindi, Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Urdu, Assamesse, Dogri, Kannada, Gujarati, Bodo, Manipuri, Oriya, Marathi, Santali, Telugu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Malayalam, Konkani and Kashmiri. Apart from these, government records say there are a total of 1,652 mother languages in the Indian subcontinent. Notably, of these, 29 of the native languages are spoken by an over a million people and at least 60 of them are spoken by more than a lakh people. If we add dialects to the language list then the number of native languages in India crosses around 2500. And the exercise to make its repository or record it is a tedious task because it is difficult for even experts to differentiate between two dialects with its similarities and complexities. Thankfully, the efforts have begun and ‘Bharatavani’ is a testimony to it. 

While the government is geared up for the conservation of India’s fast depleting language heritage, the opportunity striking at the doors of a youngster to be part of this linguistic revolution is immense. Today we are on the threshold of rising global demand for linguists. Let us on this occasion of the International Mother Tongue Day, discern the opportunities in hand to pursue our interests towards our respective mother tongues and how it can reap career benefits in the long run. 

Mark Twain famously called India to be the cradle of the human race and the birthplace of human speech. Befitting to that observation, rightly today, India is the test bed of the linguistic movement of the 21st century. For a student in India pursuing his studies and research in his or her mother tongue, the scholar is a readymade resource for the global market to delve deeply into the mysteries of the indigenous language and couple it with the cutting technology for human benefits and commercial benefits. A trained professional of linguistics in India is the door opener for the world to be ushered into the respective region and territory. May it be the industry or the medical field, experts of native language is in high demand. 

Today, a linguistics expertise is the stepping stone to a plethora of career opportunities apart from the staple careers of language teaching.  A linguist today is an important part of the team for any industry like medical research streams, voice training, translation and interpretation industry, language planning, lexicography, publishing field, technical writing streams, media companies, copywriting, public relation teams, institutions promoting foreign languages, embassies, business consulates,  international and national seminar organizers, instruction based industries, therapy centers of communication disorders and language pathology labs. 

The opportunities with IT related field for linguists is also unending. Information Technology enabled services will hit saturation if it is not ably supported by a language expert especially those who excel in vernacular and rare native languages. The growing impact of artificial intelligence and communication sciences in our everyday life has to be supported by native language if it has to perpetuate to every corner of this world’s biggest consumer market called India. Computer applications, language processing labs and application of information sciences will hit a road block without a language expert. 

Let us briefly sum up the native language related career opportunities at hand. While we discuss the language related careers, we must also recognise that careers in languages and allied fields are full of potential but are comparatively unexplored or under-explored in India. Another important point to know at this juncture is that language related studies are inter-disciplinary in nature and it can assimilate students and talents from diverse fields. Listed here are just few broad arenas for a native language expert to try and contribute profitably while the spectrum of opportunities is much wider and richer.


Do you remember the ‘save tiger’ drive and the excitement and publicity it gained among the common folks? It is also important to know that how it made a difference in the way we Indians looked at wild life conservation. The language conservation drive is many times massive and urgent and it requires participation of a lot of talented people. Many languages are endangered and the urgency of its documentation and archiving these assets is real and the governments are already responding to this need. Lesser known tribal languages, dialects have caught up with the attention of the world and it requires experts, linguists and good language administrators to execute the conservation plan. 


Language research today is an interdisciplinary subject. The impact of modern living has resulted in many changes and it includes changes in our mode of communication and it needs to be documented and researched. Language research is helping to create useful interfaces of streams like sociology, anthropology, psychology and other cognitive sciences to understand human behavior better. 


With the onset of new media and online mediums now literally world of entertainment is in every one’s hand in the form of your mobile phones. Every audio-visual production needs to be translated to the various languages for the wider reach of the content. The production of movie in a vernacular language is no more a hindrance for the international audience to cherish it because there are translators who make the content decipherable to the larger audience. Apart from the newer productions, there is a renewed trend of production houses now culling out their old productions to rework on it with variety of languages and dialects to release them again. Every corporate house is looking forward to have its portal translated to vernacular languages to reach to newer market. From brochure to catalogues, everything needs to be translated and translators are in high demand.  


The world is getting closer and stakeholders are huddled up in discussions without the barrier of languages or mediums of communication. The role of the interpreter is vital here. From dignitary visits to high profile seminars, interpreters are the soul of such events because without them the communication disconnect is obvious. Interpreters are now being demanded with specific streams and specialisations. If there is a world science congress in India and delegates from across the globe are participating, the respective language interpreters sought are preferably those who have a science background or a working knowledge of the scientific discussions. Diplomacy is dependent on translators and interpreters. The accuracy of the interpreter decides the course of the discussions and outcomes. Summit meetings to tourist escapades, all need interpreters because the world wants to interact and they no more want the language to be a barrier. Visitors to India are now no more restricting themselves to the well-known tourist destinations, they are venturing out to remote villages and hamlets and they want an interpreter with them to guide them through.  


With ever increasing domestic and international security threat, intelligence gathering has become a compelling field and it requires language experts to permeate into the complexities of a dialect or a language. Security agencies are looking for smart and intelligent agents who are polyglots. Intelligence inputs would lose their sharpness without the language experts actually steering the content to its logical conclusions. Phone records need to be sniffed through accurately without losing time. Calls may originate from any part of the world to any corner of the country and it is the linguist who connects the dots of the information for the security apparatus of the country.


India is blessed with rich and magnificent vernacular literary assets. Every language is a stand-alone treasure of unmatched writing and heritage documents. These writings, archives, short stories, fiction or non-fiction or literary product is in high demand to be translated into other languages and dialects. Children in Banaras are sleeping listening to the lullaby and short stories of Malayalam writers because writing works are now being translated extensively. Universities and publishing houses are establishing special centers to translate vernacular work for sharing and disseminating it to the wider audience.  The work has just begun and the treasure trove is massive and it will require many decades for the works to be translated and it will require many minds to contribute in this deed.


Every endeavor that has an attribute of quality needs a good mentor. Dealing with language is delicate and the quality is bearing on the results of the final product. Language mentors and accent trainers are in high demand in the corporate and public enterprises. Language mentoring and managing language labs are a lucrative position and in high demand. The new media is sensitive to quality and expansion of a domain cannot be compromised on it. Language mentors and quality experts on languages and dialects are an upcoming field.


Markets have penetrated to destinations unknown and customers are now calling back to the company for replacements, feedbacks and comments in their respective languages and dialects. From giant market leaders like Google to a refrigerator manufacturer, everyone is badly looking for customer service experts who can interact with the customer in their own language and understand their feedback. Not just understand the feedbacks, the marketing agencies need language experts who can build a rapport with the local language customer and help understand their needs to penetrate to newer areas of operations. Gone are the days when American accented youngsters used to rule the call centers catering to the outbound calls from distant shores, now booming call centers are those who have vernacular language experts and professionals well versed in local dialects to manage the back office operations.


Government departments and public undertakings are looking forward to interact and correspond to their stake holders in the language which they use. Government schemes and policies need to reach to the last person on the ground and it can happen only when they are translated and interpreted in the simplest of the simplest language with utmost precision. Public is aware of their rights like never before and RTIs are empowering masses to seek their rights. Government and public offices have to cater to every person irrespective of their language preferences. In the coming days, government recruitments for language experts with IT background could bulge because the urgent deadlines of Digital India drive is necessitating departments to go on an overdrive to translate and interpret themselves and their work to people’s spoken mediums.  


Everyone is on the world-wide-web and so should be the language expert too. The users are pouring in to the digital platform from every corner of the country and in-turn north-east to the Nilgiri hills everyone is connected. The earlier online content in English and Hindi is no more sufficient. Visitors are coming to the web to look for their piece of content in their own language and there is the opportunity to create specific online content in the language of your expertise and drive online traffic and monetize it. Blogging on interesting subjects from cuisine to self-defense are in high demand but they ought to be in a medium that everyone understands. So online is brimming with enormous opportunities to generate tailor-made content. Are you ready to be that content creator?