Indian Social Media Platform Promotes Multilingualism

Koo, an Indian microblogging social media platform that was launched in late 2019, has announced that it is currently looking to expand the social network’s language offerings “in the near future,” according to a recent report from Republic TV, an English-language news outlet based in India.

Koo has quickly positioned itself as a leader in multilingual communications and social media. The platform aims to be emblematic of the linguistic diversity present in India, a nation that boasts 23 official languages and dozens of other regional languages. Currently, Koo allows users to post in eight languages native to the Indian subcontinent in addition to English; users can then sort out which languages they wish to see on their feed. The company hopes to increase the number of native Indian languages to 25 sometime in the near future. 

Like Twitter, Koo’s logo prominently features a yellow bird. (Image credit: Koo via Wikimedia Commons).

The platform, which closely resembles Twitter in its interface — even the name “Koo” appears to be a nod to the platform’s onomatopoeic name — encourages users to post and interact with content in their native languages. Koo’s co-founder Mayank Bidawatka told Republic TV that he and his team developed Koo in response to the predominance of English on similar social media platforms, like Twitter, for instance.

“We noticed that English was the only mode of connecting with other users on all global platforms, which means that most of our population wasn’t able to communicate with others,” he told Republic TV. “After seeing this, we decided to create a product that would provide a platform for all Indians, especially those who can’t express themselves in English, to voice their opinions.”

Earlier this year, the platform launched a speech-to-text feature that works for all of the languages currently offered on the platform. For many of these languages, speech-to-text is not as widely offered in other free systems — for example, of the languages offered by Koo, Google Translate’s transcription feature is only available for Hindi and English, while Apple’s Siri is not capable of transcribing speech in any language native to India.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.


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