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Key Translation Trends in 2022

By Neil Gauld, 

The translation sector is growing at a rapid pace. The global language services industry is forecast to be worth £54.5 billion by 2025, up from £34.7 billion just six years earlier in 2019. 

But what is driving this phenomenal growth? And what are the key trends emerging in 2022 that will drive the success of the translation industry even further?

We take a look at some of the big trends in the industry to look out for in 2022.

Tech and Globalisation

Over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to communicate across borders with ease and efficiency. The sharing of information, from public health messaging to vaccine trial reports, has been key to tackling the disease. People have needed to work from home yet keep in touch with colleagues and businesses have had to adapt and join the world of ecommerce, selling goods and services into multiple territories. Covid has hastened a trend that was already in motion, with organisations working across geographical boundaries, making connections worldwide and needing to easily bypass language barriers.

Currently 63 percent of internet content is in English, but as more and more people gain access to the internet (set to be 66 percent of the global population by 2023), there will be increased need for translation services as the majority of those new users will not be from English-speaking nations. As advances in tech continue to drive globalisation, translation agencies will find themselves busier than ever.

CAT – Computer Aided Translation

The increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to a rise in machine translation (MT), with most internet users being familiar with programs such as Google Translate. For the foreseeable future MT is unlikely to replace human translation as, at the moment, it simply isn’t capable of implementing cultural nuance through transcreation and localisation in the way that humans can. Instead, human translators will continue to use MT to their advantage, through technologies such as Computer Aided Translation (CAT). These are software applications that support the human translator with a series of useful tools, such as document editors, termbases, terminology management and translation memory databases. CAT enables translators to work quickly, accurately and efficiently.

Desire for Quality

Machine translation is cheap and easily accessible, meaning that many companies will still choose it, over human translation, when preparing their websites or other materials for new markets abroad. However, bad translation is bad for business, and audiences are likely to click away quickly when faced with text that is difficult to read or irrelevant to their culture. This will drive the demand for high quality human translation that is able to engage global communities and build a brand on an international level. Technological advances have enabled companies to reach wider audiences in a huge number of countries, but if they are unable to communicate successfully with the people they have reached, their businesses will fail in these areas. 

2022 will see continuation of the demand for expert, professional translation agencies like Brightlines, which are able to engage B2B and B2C clients and customers in a clear, meaningful and successful way.

Speech-to-Speech Translation

Speech-to-speech (S2S) translation is another emerging technology that will grow in popularity throughout 2022 and beyond. S2S software instantly translates spoken phrases and reads them out in spoken form in another language. It bridges the language gap in cross-cultural communication, allowing speakers from across the world to easily communicate. Microsoft, Google, IBM and many other companies offer S2S software applications, and more are being developed all the time.  

According to a report by Expert Market Research titled ‘Global Speech to Speech Translation Market Report and Forecast 2021-2026’, the global market for speech-to-speech translation was worth approximately $335 million in 2020. The report predicts that the industry will grow even further and be worth as much as $576 million by 2026, driven by the growth in smartphone ownership among all socioeconomic classes in the Asia Pacific region.

Subtitles and Dubbing

The breakout television hit of 2021 was undoubtedly Squid Game, a South Korean dystopian drama written by Hwang-Dong-hyuk and made by Netflix. The show was watched by 142 million households within the first four weeks of its release, making the Korean-language show Netflix’s biggest ever hit. However, it wasn’t the only foreign language success of the year, with French series Lupin and Spanish drama Money Heist also appearing in Netflix’s most popular shows to date. An impressive 97 percent of American subscribers said they had watched a non-English show in the past year. As more and more foreign language titles crossover into the mainstream, the market for subtitles and lip-synced dialogue is going to boom, with market research company Valuates Reports predicting that it will be worth $441.7 million by 2027.

This is an area where expert translators and people who specialise in localisation will really be in demand. Critics of Squid Game’s subtitles and dubbing scripts say that much of the nuance of the show was lost in translation. Youngmi Mayer, the co-host of a podcast called Feeling Asian, tweeted ‘I’m fluent in Korean and I watched Squid Game and if you don’t understand Korean you didn’t really watch the same show’. Subtitling and well written dubbing scripts are art forms, and translation agencies that are able to preserve the subtleties and emotional depth of plot and character will be vital to the film and television industry.

Continued Growth of E-learning Platforms

Millions of schools, universities, colleges and other educational institutions had to shut their doors during the pandemic and move their teaching online, with over 1.2 billion students out of the classroom worldwide. While e-learning was already a successful industry, Covid-19 gave online learning on digital platforms a huge boost and the market is predicted to reach $350 billion by 2025. However, it isn’t just students who have benefited from e-learning during the pandemic, as the tools have been adopted by many other industries and businesses to enable them to do tasks such as staff training and onboarding new employees. 

These changes are driving growth in the translation and transcreation markets as global organisations look to translate English e-learning materials into other languages. Translated and transcreated materials offer a cohesive learning experience for companies that need to communicate with thousands of employees spread across the globe.

As with many other industries, tech will be the main driver in translation trends this year. However, there is only so much AI can do and the kind of high-quality translation services offered by seasoned translation agencies like Brightlines will be in high demand. 

Get in touch with us to find out how we can ensure that all of your translation needs are met in 2022, and beyond.

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