For decades, the language industry has pushed multinationals to adapt their products to local needs. Now, the language industry itself may be facing some adjustments and changes. The emerging Chinese language industry poses challenges for translation companies in the United States and Europe. A few years ago, when multinational companies, small workshop companies or independent consultants needed translation services, they were likely to look for translation companies in the United States or Europe. Western language services have been far ahead for years, with a reputation for attention to detail, quality control, education and professionalism. However, in October 2014, the news media released the long-awaited headline that China’s GDP at purchasing power parity exceeded that of the United States.
The news came as no surprise to most economists and citizens, but the breakneck pace at which China’s economy has progressed has had ripple effects across industries around the world. Of course, we pay more attention to the language service industry. With the rise and expansion of translation services in China, the language service industry has made significant breakthroughs. China’s entry into the translation market has injected many new elements into the industry: low prices, the initial outsourcing of translation projects to domestic service providers, emphasis on machine translation, and the growth of project turnover. This period of transition, like any major shift in a particular industry, presents both opportunities and challenges for the translation services sector, leading us to ask: what are our translation needs and how has the industry developed? China’s emerging markets are pushing the translation industry to adapt to global standards, reassessing the good balance between quality and speed, as globalization grows and demand for it grows (expected to reach $47 billion by 2018, according to kammensens). Further research comparing China’s language service industry with that of the United States and Europe in the past can reveal the differences between these services, and thus find the future signs of this once diversified industry.
Ask anyone in translation and they will tell you that the us and Europe have historically had the largest share of the translation industry. Thanks to the diversity of languages, rich cultural knowledge, strong customer service, and the huge demand for English translation, these two regions have the ability to lead the industry. Historically, translation services in Europe have also helped translate into the widely needed languages of French, Italian, German and Spanish. Throughout kammensens’ history of reporting, the us and Europe have been the leaders in the translation industry. Europe is also known for significant quality-control initiatives, including the europe-wide EN 15038 standard for service providers. Based on past industry trends, North America has matched Europe’s market share for five consecutive years. Kammensens expects the market for language services to grow at an annual rate of 7.41 percent. A closer look at the translation industry in Europe and the United States reveals that they have come a long way in recent years. According to the bureau of labor statistics, there were 58,400 translation and interpreting jobs in 2010, and the number is expected to grow 42% between 2010 and 2020. Founded in 1959, the translators association of America is now the leading professional organization for translators and interpreters in the United States. In addition, there are many national associations and state and local agencies. According to the European commission, there are 103 translation and interpreting associations in Europe, and the eu has invested heavily in reviewing and developing the industry. The significant growth in the us and Europe coincides with kammensens’ forecast of 6.46 per cent growth for the global translation industry, with a focus on Asia, particularly China. The translation industry, once dominated by the two giants, is shifting, and clients and market analysts alike are noticing.
The model for China’s economic rise is simple: channel foreign investment across the country to keep Labour markets cheap. The lucrative scheme has been replicated in a wide range of industries, including language services. According to the China translators association, market-oriented translation services began to emerge in China in the late 1990s. Founded in 1982, it was initially positioned as an academic member rather than a core institution for professional translators in China. In the early 1990s, translation fees in China were less than half of those of competitors in Europe and North America, and translation projects were doing well. According to a report on the development of the language service industry in China released by the China translation and interpretation association, 16,520 new enterprises were established in China between 2014 and 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 15 percent. According to a report released by the China translation and interpretation association in 2016, the total output value of China’s language service industry was 44.5 billion us dollars in 2015, an average annual growth rate of 19.7 percent compared with the figure in 2011.
There are two main differences that point to some interesting futures in the field of translation. First, there are big differences in industry history and quality control. Based on quality, standards setting and information sharing, the us and Europe have clearly paved the way for the translation industry. China’s translation industry was just born in the late 1990s. During this period, China created its own standards, industry history and established its own information sharing association, which inevitably overlaps with the standards already established in the west. Despite the rise of the Chinese translation industry, it is clear that quality control and customer service in the United States and Europe are not comparable and are highly valued by language service customers. Rapid response rates, 24/7 support and convenient time zones have helped the western translation industry remain competitive and continue to dominate the global translation industry. With the development of the language service industry in China, China will focus on strengthening the translation association, communication methods, translator development programs, quality control reports and customer service. Second, in the translation industry, which always attaches great importance to quality, China’s rise in the industry highlights the importance and risk of paying attention to project turnaround time and price. This focus on the price and speed of translation services concerns customers at all levels, makes a positive effort to reduce costs, and increases focus on quality at different price points across the market. However, it has also led to important industry discussions around the industry’s quality standards. China’s focus is largely on machine translation and post-translation editing, a cheaper and more efficient process. However, the process also allows for higher human error in the final product. The United States and Europe mainly use the traditional process of human translation and CAT (computer aided translation) tools to achieve more accurate and precise translation. The growth of the translation industry continues to recognize the importance of the quality and human translation traditionally provided in the United States and Europe; However, China has also introduced business into industry dialogue. China’s language service industry undoubtedly plays an important role in a rapidly globalized world, and it has the ability to adapt to rapid project turnover and cope with different language service budgets. However, it is important to recognise that the industry should live up to its historic reputation for quality, a key element that is unlikely to be diluted in spite of other lower-cost options. The world is changing, new technologies are creating an increasingly high-speed and connected world, and translation needs are becoming more diverse than ever before. No one can predict what the future holds, but the future of translation is likely to be a combination of east and west technology and strategy, including a need for speed and budget and an emphasis on quality, customer service and localization. That’s what we’re saying — the translation industry is doing a lot of translation to adapt to a modern world that needs translation services more than ever.