My latest Tansa installation took me to Chennai (formerly Madras) in Southern India. Chennai is in the state of Tamil Nadu and has a population of over 4 million people. With so many residents it is a bustling place at almost any time of day or night and what for me seemed to be utter chaos, for the locals was quite the norm. The trip to and from the hotel in the mornings and the evenings was an adventure in itself. Streets were teeming with people, pushbikes, motorbikes, cars, buses, tuk-tuks and other imaginative forms of transport with a constant tooting of horns and flashing of lights. An abrupt contrast from my normal daily routine, it offered a commotion and vibrancy that certainly isn’t to be found in the quiet streets of Oslo, Norway.
I was visiting The Hindu, a major daily newspaper published in British English, with a readership of over 4 million. Their Tansa dictionary is based on Oxford 11th and as a Brit and hence a native English speaker, I could have assumed that we spoke the same language. But theirs is not a straightforward representation of the English language. India has taken English, mixed in their own words and phrases, plundered from other continents and colonies, reclaimed a few words that back home were made redundant long ago and formed their own unique version of the language. During my trip I learnt a multitude of ‘Indianisms’ — words and phrases that are commonly used in publications like The Hindu but rarely have any connection to British English. Some are self-explanatory but others are vague to say the least. If you were to compliment me on my new keds, I probably wouldn’t realise you were referring to my new canvas shoes. Or how would you know that the stepney in your dickey meant the spare tyre in the boot of your car. Together we created lists of these words and phrases and have been entering them into their Auxiliary Dictionary enabling Tansa to recognise and, where appropriate, suggest corrections to these entries.
As with all Tansa users it will take time before their Tansa dictionary is at a stage where it is finely tuned to their specific style — you don’t need to be a linguist to appreciate the complexities involved in English (not least with some Indian influence mixed into the ‘pot’). But The Hindu have already made considerable headway and are reaping the benefits of their Auxiliary Dictionary entries. As with other customers, Tansa provides the means to handle their individual style and therefore enable consistency both in print and online. Editing staff at The Hindu are already talking about ‘pre- and post-Tansa’, indicating the significant difference Tansa will make and we at Tansa are excited to be a part of this change.