Thursday, 14 March 2013

Suraksha chetavani (security warning) from AirTel

My mobile operator AirTel sent me a message on March 6. I didn't notice it until yesterday. It's a security warning from the company reminding me AirTel will never ask me any personal details, or bank passwords. People get messages of this kind everyday. So there is nothing special in there, except for two things. 

First I am a DND (Do Not Disturb) customer. So I don't know why they are still messaging me. 

Secondly, and this is more fun, the message is in Hindi-Urdu. The company has used Roman Hindustani to send its message across. The Roman Hindustani used doesn't have any diacritics, and is very similar in form to the SMS- or Facebook-lingo used by many here.

Here is the message: 

(1/2) Suraksha Chetavanai: Yad rahe, airtel kabhi bhi aapki niji jankaari jaise bank account vivran, passwords aadi se sambandhit jankaari nahi mangta.

(2/2) Kripya, lottery/Inaam ke anuroode ke liye ki gai call, SMS aur +91 ke alawa anya ISD code se aayi missed call ka uttar na dein, ye fraud ho sakte hain.

Sender: AK-ARWALR
Received: 2013/03/06 19:49

Except for anuroode, which I believe means "to request", the rest of the message is clear. It is more on the Hindi side; notice "uttar" instead of more colloquial "jawab", "bank account vivran" instead of "bank account details", "sambandhit" instead of "related" and "jankaari" instead of "information."

These are minor issues. 

What makes this message interesting, is that it shows a form Roman Hindustani is already taking shape. It's not perfect. It's not the best. But it works.

I have tried IAST with my sisters. They didn't like it. 

(My sisters are fairly representative of most young Indians. They are What's Up, Facebook users who aspire to a idling career in a government office. They go to college but don't know a thing of what they learn. They want an Addidas or god-knows-what tag on their T-shirts, shoes... and they speak two or three languages but are fluent in none of them.)

What's amazing about the Roman Hindustani used by AirTel (perhaps others do that too) is that it works even with this bunch of people.

As far as I am concerned, I will not attempt to make another Roman-based script for Hindustani. Let's float with the waves and see where it leads to.