‘Selfie’, ‘drones’, ‘metaverse’, and ‘Artificial Intelligence’ are among the new, “technical” English words that become a part of Indian psyche and culture but have no formal translations into Indian languages. Unable to find standardised vernacular versions of these words in common usage, the government body responsible for their coinage in Indian languages is turning to crowdsourcing.
The Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT), which has the mandate to evolve technical terminology in all Indian languages, will soon launch ‘Shabd Shala’, a website which will invite suggestions for translation of words that are recent additions to the English language and are used widely in India. People across India can log onto the ‘Shabd Shala’ website and provide suggestions for possible translations of these words or their most prevalent usages in their respective languages.
The website is expected to be functional in six months. “We are waiting for approvals from the Education Ministry, which are expected very soon,” Professor Girishnath Jha, Chairperson, CSTT, told The Hindu.
“We will invite suggestions in all Indian languages and not restrict ourselves to the main 22 languages [covered under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution]. People can provide us with translations in even Bhojpuri and Nagamese,” he said.
After collating all the suggestions, the Technical Words Selection Committee will zero in on the most popular or appropriate translations for each word, following which a glossary would be brought out in all the respective languages.
The committee, to be constituted in consultation with the Education Ministry, will comprise of subject experts in science and technology, and experts in linguistics and the Sanskrit language.
The main function of the CSTT, which functions under the Education Ministry, is to evolve standard terminology, propagate its use, and distribute it widely. The commission is mandated to collaborate with State governments, universities, regional textbook Boards, and State ‘Granth Academies’, which are nodal bodies in-charge of providing translations of English textbooks in local languages for institutions of higher education. Eighteen States were mandated to have Granth Academies. However, educationists and linguistic experts have rued the lack of requisite expertise in them.
A senior official in the Education Ministry, who did not wish to be named, said that till 1985, the University Grants Commission had had a scheme to support the production of textbooks in regional languages, which were very useful for such technical terms, but that the scheme was somehow scrapped after 1985.