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Published on July 19th, 2007 | by Babar Bhatti


Mobile Terminology: In Urdu, English, Both?

I often wonder how the lay person in Pakistan feel about all the technical jargon thrown at them. By the way this is a global issue. There are plenty of confusing technical terms in today’s world and telecommunication industry, for one, is notorious for not doing a good job at explaining its products, services or bills in a user friendly way. On top of it, when all this jargon is exported, along with the technology, to other countries it can add to the confusion. Pakistan suffers from this imported problem too.

Here’s what got me started on this track. vas-warid.jpgI was looking at the Urdu section of a bilingual service brochure from one of the mobile company in Pakistan (click image to see full resolution version). I found it odd to see the English terms written verbatim in Urdu. What good is an Urdu section if it is indiscriminately peppered with English terms? Of course each term needs to be handled on case by case basis because for some terms it makes sense to assimilate the term and for other cases the correct Urdu term (or both English and Urdu) should be used.

SIM card simcu.JPG is a good example where the term is better used as is. For other terms (for example menu, services, setting) can’t these phone companies get some good Urdu copy writers and translators? May be they can recruit from the Urdu TV channel staff :)

A related trend is the increasing use of Urdu in the cyberspace  in general and Blogistan(as Adil Najam calls it) in particular. And now there are quite a few phones – such as Nokia 6030 – available with Urdu menu and font support. I have also heard that authentic Urdu text messaging (not just roman text) is gaining popularity. Perhaps with all this surge of activity in Urdu (such as Urdu blogs and newspapers) there will be a return to Urdu phrases as well. While searching for Urdu keyboard software, I recently discovered many good Urdu sites, one of which is particularly interesting and I recommend visiting it: CRULP – Center for Research in Urdu language Processing.

Back to the brochure above – a few questions which came to mind after looking at the brochure:

  • In the image above ‘Chatting’ is written in both Urdu and English in parenthesis. Using both languages helps to some extent. Is this something which should be used more often?
  • Has anyone tried to translate other terms such as value-added services or SMS in Urdu? But I doubt that anything like tmsg.GIFwill replace smu.JPG from the vernacular!

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0 Responses to Mobile Terminology: In Urdu, English, Both?

  1. Hameed khan says:

    Zardari k aane ka pehla tuhfa, ta
    ”BUSH”ny ”’GENRAL HUD”’ ko Pakistan mein
    SAFEER bana kr bejahy.yeh wohi Maloun hy jis ny
    (Nauzubillah)Toilet mein bahaya,aur kaha k
    ”’Is Fitny Wali Kitab Ko Duniya Sy Khatam Kar Do”’

  2. Helo , Dear ,
    Good Morning

    this is very good site for sms


  3. Misha says:

    Reading through your responses I found out that we undully criticize a few marketing campaigns without looking behind the logic. Though pure Urdu phrases are sight to see however we must also keep in mind that words like “Service on”, “Service off”, GPRS, SMS etc which maybe telco jargons or simple phrases which denote a service usage have been so well embedded in the mobile phones user’s mind that any other Urdu replacement may actually cost the company in terms of sending confusing messages to the customers.

    Warid has launched a wonderful Urdu SIM & if you browse through its content & alerts I guarantee that you will enjoy the local language content as I did.

  4. Pingback: State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan » Warid’s New Urdu Service

  5. Pingback: State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan » Pakistan Tackles SMS Spam

  6. Babar Bhatti says:

    I hope this was an isolated case and the marketing communication today is much better and sensitive to Urdu users.

  7. Atif Mahmmod says:

    Dear Babar
    u always bring noticeable material

    Actually this shows overall weakness of the Integrated Marketing Communication here. i donot know exactly whether it is the idea of their inhouse brand division or they saved some marketing money while outsourcing to some Ad Agency. anyways, the content is not well targeted on its actual audience, infact the content writer did not think at all and was not well versed with marketing communication prnciples and nobody did even bother to check it out.


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