Confused in translation

Everyone who lives in Mumbai is by now used to seeing thousands of hoardings all over the place. It is everywhere! The moment you raise your vision by 30 degrees vertically, you will spot atleast 2 hoardings no matter where you are. This, at the same time of course, is also true for any metropolis anywhere in the world.

No, I have nothing against these hoardings. Actually I do, but that is not what I am pointing at. If you have paid attention to most of these hoardings, the product they are trying to advertise are mass market products, given the reach that these hoardings can achieve. If these products are mass market, the obvious language that they need to communicate in, is Hindi. However, all of these hoardings are in english. Atleast they are written in english. What I mean is, even though they are written in the english language, they are actually Hindi words! Now, why would anybody do that?

I have been seeing this trend for a couple of years now and I am still confused about what the possible reason could be. For example, just two days back I saw a Castrol Activ hoarding. This one was a compliment to the new TV ad campaign with the two Sardars on the bike where the dad is teaching the son to ride a bike. The hoarding has the same picture of the father and son on the bike and next to them is written, ‘Stop – Go Traffic Mein All-Round Protection’. ‘Mein‘ here is a Hindi word which means ‘in’. So, not only is there a Hindi word in the midst, the sentence itself is supposed to be in Hindi. Of course it makes sense to keep a Hindi sentence as all the TV ads are also in Hindi and this is a product for the masses. However, if a person cannot read english, how will he understand it in the first place? And this is true for hundreds of such ads for products, services and the ones that use this the most, Hindi General Entertainment Channels! I mean, ALL their shows are in Hindi! Most of their audiences are non english speaking women! How can you do this to them?

Now the answer to this conundrum might be in the following questions:

  1. Do they mean that only if someone can read english can they buy their product?
  2. Have they figured out that Indians living in Mumbai like believing that a hoarding in Hindi script is unattractive?
  3. Do Mumbaiites believe that Hindi script is LS?
  4. Do the television channels believe they have all the non english reading people wrapped up and all they need to attract are english reading folks who think in Hindi?

The answer might be, that even though people in Mumbai like reading stuff in english and find it more convenient, they still think in Hindi. All their thoughts are in Hindi. This is what makes it easier for them to relate to a hoarding or an ad and most of the people who are driving are anyways people who can read english faster than Hindi.

Ahaan! Maybe I should have blogged about this earlier, I would have found the answer faster!

You think this is the right answer?

One thought on “Confused in translation

  1. Mohit says:

    Also, ppl use english words in our daily hindi too… Try translating "stop-go traffic mein all round protection" into pure hindi and if u manage it u’ll find these r words such even ppl who do not speak english wont use while speaking normally…BTW, i cud only manage to translate protection 😛

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