Yandex.Navigator to start speaking Tatar?

Car experts and public activists are waiting for a Tatar-speaking guide in cars and offering to use it to make the mother tongue more popular

A popular service Yandex.Navigator has recently started speaking like heroes of the game Warcraft III Illidan and Archimonde (dubbed by actors Vladislav Kopp and Mikhail Schultz). Apart from them, the application’s collection includes Basta, Vasily Utkin, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Dmitry Nagiyev, Artyom Dzyuba, Olga Buzova and other popular people. “Why not make dubbing by famous Tatarstan showmen?” the Federation of Car Owners of Russia in Tatarstan fails to understand. “We need the Tatar language in GPS,” regional head of the FCO in Tatarstan Ramil Khayrullin confidently claimed in a talk with Other car experts and Tatar public activists also agree with him, moreover, the service already speaks several languages. Read in our report whose voice drivers in Tatarstan prefer to hear as a guide and the chances of GPS saying “let’s go” in Tatar.

Not our dear voices

Yandex.Navigator fluently speaks not only Russian and English but also Turkish and Ukrainian. Moreover, today a user of the service can choose the voice the system will speak to him or her. One can choose not only a male or female voice — one can make so that Vasily Utkin, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Garik Kharlamov, Vera Brezhneva, Olga Buzova, Alan Dzagoyev or a cartoon character will show the road.

But turning GPS on, Tatar speakers have to switch to Russian or other language and choose “not their dear” voices. Moreover, according to Wikipedia and other open sources, about 4,28 million people spoke the Tatar language in Russia in 2010 (no later data available) about 7 million around the world (in 80 regions of the former Union, Finland, Turkey, Germany, America, China, Japan, Australia). The number of Tatar speakers in the world has changed, of course, though probably insignificantly.

1,765 million people speak the Tatar language today, and many of them — not only drivers — use GPS when they have to get to somewhere for the first time. However, Tatar dubbing in GPS might attract not only speakers of this language but also those who learn it.

“A person must have a choice”

“We need the Tatar language in GPS,” representative of Federation of Car Owners of Russia in Tatarstan Ramil Khayrullin is convinced. “Yandex in this respect has room for development — it is uncharted territory, I don’t understand in general why they don’t make such localisations, and not only with Tatar. Probably they don’t see a need — they go by the fact that the official language in Russia is Russian. But it is wrong, a person must have a choice, in this respect too.”

“If indications of GPS will sound in a driver’s mother tongue, it is amazing,” Chairman of All-Russian Society of Car Drivers Yury Kulagin agrees with Khayrullin. “The idea is fine, even excellent. Tatars are the second-biggest nation in Russia, this is why the translation of GPS into Tatar would be quite logical. Also, when in modern conditions mother tongues get lost and gradually die out, I think such an approach might help save them and make them more popular. At the moment we manage to smooth this process over in Tatarstan, but the appearance of a Tatar-speaking version of GPS would certainly play a positive role. Here is a simple example — a child speaks Russian at school, in the kindergarten, in the courtyard, while in the family he or she speaks both languages, listens to a Tatar speech in the car when driving. It can be simple short phrases, it doesn’t matter, it is important that he or she hears the speech, unintentionally listens to it, and this remains in his or her consciousness.”

“GPS in Tatarstan needs the Tatar language,” thinks Executive Director of Tatar Pen Centre, writer Akhat Mushinsky. “It is the second official language in the republic. Announcements in the metro are made in Russian, Tatar and English, the same must happen in GPS, I think.”

Els Gadelyayev if not Salavat

“GPS had two options of the voice at first — female and male,” Ramil Khayrullin says. “The possibility of using famous people’s voice appeared later, and I, to be honest, haven’t thought of whose voice GPS might have. Maybe singer Salavat’s voice? Though he is a singer. Yes, his voice is famous and loved here. But will this voice be so recognisable if Salavat talks, if he does not sing? Maybe it might be some famous Tatar commentator, announcer. It can be also a simply famous person, politician, somebody from show business. Moreover, this person doesn’t have to necessarily speak the Tatar language with modern technologies — the sound can be easily synthesised. The official voice package is created the following way: something is dubbed in the studio, while the rest is done with the help of special technologies.”

“GPS can speak my voice,” Akhat Mushinsky offered. “I like my voice, others do too. When I hosted Near the Green Fireplace programme on TV, everyone told me I had a beautiful voice. You know, we had amazing announcer Els Gadelyayev in our republic. He practised under Yury Levitan. It was unique voices, but all these people passed away. If it had been possible to recreate their voices, many in our republic would probably prefer Els Gadelyayev to show them the road.”

There is demand, there are no plans

There is only one thing that can be an obstacle for GPS from speaking Tatar, thinks Yury Kulagin:

“It is a commercial product, the market dictates conditions in such cases. If it is profitable for companies providing such services, they will make it. If not, nobody will force them. Though I think that there will be demand for this service — GPS in Tatar.”

In reply to Realnoe Vremya’s request about the possibility of translating GPS into Tatar, we received a laconic answer from Yandex that the company didn’t have such plans at the moment.

“If something changes, we will certainly let you know,” the IT giant specified. The question about the price of such a product was also omitted here.

Neither was Google enthusiastic having studied our newspaper’s request about the launch of a Tatar-speaking version of GPS: “Many thanks for your request. We will decline to comment on this. Google”.

By Inna Serova