Fast, reliable, and cost effective translation services are widely available today, but believe it or not, this hasn’t always been the case. Looking back just 20 years ago, the translation industry was very different to what it is today, with higher costs, fewer options, and reliability that was somewhat questionable to say the least! So what changed? Well, the translation industry today has a lot to thank the internet for…
Benefits of the Internet
Before the internet became what it is today, translation was a very time-consuming and inconvenient task. We had little choice but to utilize physical literature, often with the need to visit libraries, particularly when dealing with the more obscure languages of the world; the languages not regularly taught in schools or encountered while traveling. As we’ve seen with the introduction of e-readers, physical literature is no longer our only option. We’ve now got knowledge at our fingertips.
However, it’s not just about having access to the right information, it’s also about having access to the right people; translators who can offer accurate, reliable work. With the rise in online learning and digital classrooms has come easier access to online courses, and study materials for learning languages. This shift in the way we learn to incorporate digital techniques has created a whole generation of people who have been able to become fluent in a variety of languages from their own home, and often for free.
Not a Dying Industry
We’ve looked at how the internet has helped the translation sector, but are there any ways that this ‘always on’ nature has hindered further growth and development of the industry? Looking back about 10 years ago, the outlook for translation services wasn’t quite as bright as it is today. What happened 10 years ago? Google Translate happened! At this time, it was widely thought that free online services such as this would cause the translation industry as we knew it to collapse. Of course, we now know it didn’t.
Free services such as Google Translate failed to take off in the ways they were expected to. The issue? Automation. Quite simply, translation cannot be automated if we value reliability. Language just doesn’t work that way. Contrary to popular belief, language often cannot be translated word for word without taking into account proper sentence structure and context – aspects that automated services cannot achieve. And how about idioms? As the French say when they find something funny, ‘se taper le cul par terre’. Now run that through Google Translate. A literal definition, yes, but not really what’s intended!
Perhaps the biggest change to hit the translation industry since the rise of widespread internet usage relates to the rates and fees that are charged by service providers. The good news for customers is that translation fees are now much lower, due to the many benefits the internet has brought to the sector. At its most basic, translation is now more reasonably priced because it’s easier. Not only is there less time involved in researching, but there’s also a wide pool of talented translators, fluent in multiple languages, providing efficient services for their clients.
In fact, the translation industry is expected to grow by nearly 30 percent by 2024; an ‘above average’ growth rate according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics!