It’s a sign of the times that Google services including Gmail are now available in Burmese, marking the 74th language of the world’s most popular email service.
Gmail available in Burmese
“As a country of 53 million, Myanmar’s recent opening-up has triggered an explosion of people coming online”, said Google product manager Brian Kemler in a recent blog post.
“As recently as 2011, a mere 500,000 Myanmar citizens were able to access the Internet, which was less than one percent of the population”, he added.
He also said that the number of people in Myanmar who can get on the web has grown to 2.6 million, as the availability of mobile phones has increased. For many ordinary citizens, mobile phones are the only way that they can access the Internet – a trend that is familiar in other developing nations as mobile technologies leapfrog fixed line broadband in many cases.
Here’s the open letter to the people of Myanmar from Google.
Kemler noted that “our team has been working hard to ensure Google is ready to support this new community in their own language”.
“To capture the nuances of this language and make sure the translations were accurate, consistent and complete, we relied on an array of Myanmar speakers from within the country, and around the world”, he said.
“In April 2013 we launched Google Search in Myanmar, and today we’re excited to announce that Gmail now supports Myanmar (Burmese), our 74th language”.
Internet access and mobile phones are rapidly growing in Myanmar, under the increased openness of the military junta that has been in charge for decades. But for one of the world’s biggest Internet companies to support the nation’s native language can only be a good thing, and will hopefully help potentially millions more people to access the Internet. There are however questions about Internet censorship in Myanmar, and that’s a debate that will continue for a long time.