So Amazon’s new virtual assistant – Alexa is colouring up all India by learning ‘Hinglish’, like Hindi mixed up in English in a very typical Indian accent so that she can “talk, walk and feel Indian”. Okay, that’s something.
Amazon is setting up to ship its flagship smart Echo speakers this week, and Alexa has already started to learn Hinglish – like wut! For real? Well, we are a massive bunch of 1.324 billion people and 300 million smartphone users – we just outnumbered the US to become world’s second largest smartphone market after China. Woohoo! With such a huge market right in front of their eyes, who wouldn’t want to take a step ahead to create a ‘huh! Wow’ factor among the mass. Now that Amazon wants to sell Echo speakers in the potent Indian market, they are teaching her a blend of Hindi and English language so that Alexa can unmistakably speak ‘Hinglish’ – so that we all feel like home at home, you know.
Adapting to Indian traditions, Alexa doesn’t fail to wish Independence Day on August 15th and not on July 4th – when she is in India. She also wishes ‘Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year’. Not just wishes, Alexa can add items like haldi, jeera and atta to your shopping list so that you don’t miss any of that on your grocery list. Oh and she refers to living room as ‘drawing room’ too – although that one is kind of a turn off, but it adds a good touch. And then there are even those cricket jokes (please don’t ask about it).
Hinglish is particularly an integral part of Indian community, not because American or British English isn’t understandable – but because technology is spreading beyond the urban regions to India’s hinterlands. Many of those hinterland-ers are obsessed with Hindi-ish words, cricket and Bollywood, and that they enjoy it when their devices sound more like themselves. So flawless English just won’t cut it there. Hence Hinglish. And, Amazon isn’t the only one on this ship, even Apple Inc. is planning to adapt with Indian market so that the whole ‘Siri’ experience can be better for huge number of Indian customers. Apple and even Google are targeting the nation of 1.3 billion by training their virtual assistants so that they can mould in the heterogeneity of its languages and subcultures. Although, personally, I feel that Siri would sound weird in Hinglish – it is still a good idea to add the regional touch. Way to go virtual assistants.