What can the translation market expect from 2021?

See what to expect from the translation market in 2021 and learn about the main trends

The coronavirus disrupted the economy and virtually no one predicted its occurrence. Every projection and expectation was thrown out the window overnight, while the months that followed changed the way the world does business: from the rise of the home office to a dramatic downturn in international trade, investments and travel. 

We have not yet seen the end of the danger: we have lockdowns in place that can last until next year. 

However, the translation market was able to find opportunities amidst the crisis. Some experts point out that language service providers were better prepared than most to face the pandemic. See how this happened and what to expect in 2021.

Unexpected growth

There are three reasons for such. First, many companies in this industry were already equipped and familiar with home office.

Second, the activities of most translation providers span all sectors of the economy, making them less vulnerable to abrupt economic changes.

Third, the crisis generated a large amount of content related to COVID-19, which – mainly among international companies – has to be translated due to compliance with the law.

As a result, the translation market is attracting more aspiring translators, copywriters, proofreaders and post-editors than in previous years.

Relatively a safe haven, thousands – perhaps even tens of thousands – of people laid off from their full-time jobs in 2020 have since then moved on to the world of language services in the hope of earning a stable income once again.

Now that the long, strange and unpredictable 2020 has slowly come to an end, this is the perfect time to take a look at the trends that will most likely settle in the translation market in 2021.

Machine translation, human post-editing

Although machine translation has gained ground in the last decade, it will become an integral part of the translation industry in the coming years. Finally, language service providers will start using them or, at least, already plan to employ post-editing and MT tools.

Machine translation is no longer a random-meaningless-sentence creator. Now, the new technologies have enough data to back it up and compare, contrast and create.

Artificial intelligence for translation

Wait, so AI is not the same as machine translation? Not exactly. AI is the main focus of companies that develop computer aided translation tools (CAT tools), which are used by human translators to create texts from scratch.

Although MT has its uses, such as the translation of user manuals or parts lists, some areas are worth having a human on the circuit from the beginning – marketing, creative, literary texts and so on.

The artificial intelligence found in CAT tools has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Based on a neural, deep learning network, AI algorithms continually “learn” from the human translator as data is entered.

As the AI becomes familiar with the translator’s preference for certain words, sentences and adjustments, the tool adapts its own algorithms to reflect this.

Globalization leverages the translation market

In a post-COVID-19 economy, companies will explore all possible channels to recover their losses in the next 12 to 24 months. This could mean making inroads into emerging markets – such as South America, Turkey, Russia, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa and so on.

And while English is the global language of business, when it comes to communicating with end users, people want to receive information in their mother tongue.

This goes hand in hand with the emergence of machine translation: while before it may have been necessary for a text to go through two or three links in the human translation chain (for example, French > English, English > Russian, Russian > Ukrainian) before reaching the target language, the MT can eliminate the middleman and go straight from the source to the target.

The result: more affordable translation options for companies seeking to set new roots in other markets.

From static text to dynamic interaction

Online video marketing has been on the rise for a long time. The widespread of wireless coverage, big data plans and social media platforms like TikTok enabled people to watch videos on their smartphones anywhere.

At first, this may seem like a threat to the translation market. After all, wouldn’t less texts imply a drop in demand?

However, the truth is the opposite: many of these video contents come with subtitles that need to be transcribed and translated into many different languages – since people often consume this type of content in public, they tend to watch it with the volume down or even off, relying on the accompanying text to understand the story being told.

On the production side, there is still a strong need for translations, storyboards, scripts, press materials, posts and more. In other words: translators will not be short of content to work with anytime soon.

Uncertain times demand a reliable partner

According to the Slator Language Industry Market Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of global language services and the technology industry, the translation market grew to US$24.2 billion in 2019 and projects growth to US$25.3 billion in 2022. 

Understanding the direction the industry should take allows us to respond at an early stage, adapting and developing new processes, investing in the latest translation technologies and expanding our experience.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that recovering companies can rely on a specialized language service provider for their translation demands.

While it can be tempting to cut costs whenever possible or take care of matters internally, when it comes to languages, there are no shortcuts. It’s all about perception: a piece of well-written text can turn heads, change minds and attract the right audience, but in the worst case an inappropriate copy can destroy a company.

No matter how uncertain 2021 may seem, Fidelity Translations is always at your service to help stabilize your business and start rebuilding it for the future. This is not a forecast – it is a promise.

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