Celebrating 20 Years As Your Trusted Language Partner! Changes in Language and Language Services

This January 15th marks a significant milestone for Alpha Omega Translations. We have been in business for 20 years! It is difficult to overstate how grateful we are for our wonderful clients and partners. It is also difficult to overstate the changes in language we have witnessed and how these changes have influenced our work.

changes in languageGiven our position in the language industry, we thought it would be appropriate to discuss the evolution of language and the language services industry during the past 20 years. And, of course, reflecting on the past naturally leads one to ponder what the future will hold. Let’s dig in!

Tectonic Shifts in Language Affect the Industry

The language services industry is big business. According to a study released in 2016, the demand for language services and supporting technology is growing at an annual rate of 5.52% and experts predict the market will reach $45 billion by 2020. This means that any big changes in language will have a ripple-affect throughout the industry and beyond.

1. The Role of Technology

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention technology in our retrospective article. When we consider the biggest changes that have come down the pike in the world of linguistics, technology immediately springs to mind. There’s no doubt that smart phone technology has been one of the biggest drivers of industry and the language industry is no exception.

Talk into your phone and a Google app can now turn your words into a foreign language. Of course, software can give the gist of a foreign language, but for business, rough won’t cut it.

Far from replacing humans, technology has grown to become a translator’s best tool. Since the 1990’s, the introduction of Translation Memory (TM) tools has allowed language service providers, like Alpha Omega Translations, to keep up with the surging demand for high-quality translation.

TM databases allow translators to dip into stores of data including whole sentences that have already been translated in a given language pair. This helps translators speed up repetitive work, such as translating technical manuals.

2. Changes in Language

The translation market continues to widen with the trends in language. 20 years ago, translation in continental Europe was dominated by the “FIGS” (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) and Japanese, Chinese, and Korean were the only Asian languages to speak of. According to one marketing research service (Common Sense Advisory), speakers of 13 languages account for roughly 90% of online spending. But now we are starting to see a shift both for political and business reasons.

The European Union’s bureaucrats now have to communicate in 24 languages. In Asia, once-neglected languages, such as Vietnamese and Indonesian, matter more as these countries grow. In addition, today, more companies do business in Africa and regard that continent’s languages as increasingly important. Big software firms, like Microsoft, also find it profitable to localize their products in small languages like Maya or Luxembourgish. It is no longer true that translation is usually to or from English.

So, what’s next?

1. We’ll continue to see improvements in “Machine Translation.”

Many organizations looking to be successful on the global stage make use of Machine Translation (MT) today. As we continue to see breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computers increasingly learn from the massive collections of data available, we will continue to see improvements in “machine translation.” Computers will learn from huge databases of already-translated text to make even better guesses about how to render large chunks of text from one language into another.

While translators used to feel threatened by the idea of machine translation, instead of seeing machines taking over, we are starting to see computers as a powerful tool in our work. Besides the core of our business involves so much more than translating. There is project management, file management, acting as a liaison between clients and end users, and consulting work to be done. As Machine Translation improves, we’ll continue to see its role in our industry grow.

2. We’ll see translators increase their technology skills.

While machines certainly play their part, it’s unlikely that software could ever completely replace the need for human translators and localization specialists. More likely, we will see an increasing role for translators who specialize in deeply understanding how MT software works and how to correct for errors. This role within the language service industry would combine the skills of a translator, a linguistic reviewer, and a Machine Translation specialist.

3. We’ll see an increase in demand for transcreators.

Transcreators are highly specialized linguists charged with recreating the source content so that it’s appropriate for your target market. The goal here is to “recreate” content in a way that inspires the same emotions in the target language as the source content elicits in the home market. The linguists performing this service are highly creative translators. They tend to be senior, experienced professionals with as much marketing content experience as translation experience. They might also have agency experience.

Looking to the Future

At Alpha Omega Translations, we plan to proudly serve the translation needs of Virginia businesses for the next 20 years! Our certified translators offer medical translation, legal translation, and a wide variety of business translations.

But beyond business development, we also champion linguistic causes and do our part to preserve diversity around the world. Our efforts to preserve endangered languages, especially, have earned us praise in the press both at home and abroad.

As linguists and highly specialized language professionals, our team at Alpha Omega Translations is excited for the opportunity to grow in a variety of new directions. Thank you for being a valuable part of these amazing changes!

Category: Translation Services

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