Facebook’s M Basic application has no direct equivalent in any other language. The meaning of words is very important to Facebook users and their experiences on the social network are greatly impacted by the meaning of words in their native languages. This is especially true when people from countries that speak English as a first language or have other languages at home choose to use Facebook.
The Facebook interface uses the term “enger” in its URL address, which is an abbreviation for the German word “enger”. In India, Facebook offers the option to log in using Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali and Tamil languages. Facebook also offers an application called Tamil Facebook. It is essentially the Facebook version of the Tamil localisation of MS Word. Users can adjust the set up to see their desktop wallpaper, lock screens and options similar to Facebook.
The meaning of every word on Facebook is significant and has a significant impact on how it will be interpreted by members of a local community. Users of Facebook will need to be careful about how they choose words and the contexts in which they do so. Many of these words and phrases are offensive to some members of a local Indian ethnic group or the specific religion of the person who is using the application. For example, the word “gay” in a Facebook profile can be offensive to conservative Christians who consider same sex activity to be sinful.
The word “gay” in a Facebook dictionary is often translated as “habitat” or “mate” or some variation thereof. It can be offensive to members of the gay community and the trans-gendered. This is one reason why the Facebook M Basic dictionary has the word “gay” as one of its definitions.
A dictionary is only as good as the source it derives from. The word “gay” in a Facebook dictionary and the meaning in English should be derived from the true cultural meaning of the Hindi language. In Hindi, the word “gay” is an adjective that describes a liking for somebody of the same sex. As such, it would be a term describing a man’s interest in another man. When used in an educational context, the meaning is something close to the literal definition.
Contextual translation Hindi is an important part of online dictionaries because it allows users to access articles in the comfort of their homes without downloading and installing programs that translate the content into their native languages. Facebook’s M Basic dictionary is not different. Users need only to click on the dictionary entry and the meaning will appear in their native language. The definition of the word “gay” in Facebook’s dictionary should also be viewed in the context of a conversation that takes place in a South Asian country.
The literal meaning of the word, “gay” in English Hindi translation may appear to be a straightforward reference to homosexuality in some parts of the world, but it is not. Like the definition “bisexual” in English, the word “gay” in Hindi actually has several shades of meaning that can mean different things depending upon the usage and the cultural context in which it is used. In actual use, the word is not always referring to the sexual aspect of homosexuality. Sometimes the reference is made more about liking the same sex (something like a “faction” of gay folks). And it can mean someone who is attracted to the same sex but is not necessarily considering themselves to be gay.
Online dictionaries and translations are a necessity because the global village has opened up a whole new way of communication and interaction. Users of Facebook cannot reasonably be expected to know how someone else’s perspective or intent behind a given comment or status update may be, especially when that person does not speak or communicate in their mother-tongue. This is why it is so important to ensure that your Facebook application matches your needs both in terms of its functionality and its meaning in the local language in which you intend to use it.