What will the translation industry look like in 2022?

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:27
Russian to English
+ ...
The change will certainly not be in mergers and acquistions Apr 23, 2017

--that's a part of business management not translation per se. The main change will be in people's attitude toward translation--the shift toward quality, and beautiful style, what we have seen in culinary arts, for example--from TV dinners to gourmet cooking. I think the creative branches, such as arts--literature, the film industry will move away from more mechanical types of translation, not to mention MT, going for quality and the esthetic aspects of translation rather than volume. There will certainly be fewer translators in the future, and there may even be an accreditation in most countries similar to the accreditations in the legal and medical professions. Translation will become more expensive overall. Just my intuitions.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
I think it's just agonal (related to competition) Apr 23, 2017

I recently listened to an old radio program by Alejandro Dolina, where he explains the end of Greece's agonal period (the time of sports competitions that were the highlight of Greek society). Agonal in this case means competitive, being number one, etc.

Mr. Dolina went on to describe briefly what he saw in American society: fostering of competitiveness and comparison since school, charts, who's the most popular student, who'll be class president, etc. That alone should be a topic of research by sociologists, but it bears mentioning here because we're letting ourselves become conditioned by this pervasive and unhealthy competitive spirit: what's the most popular translator website, what's the best translation of this or that book, what are the 10 most important things a freelancer should or should not do, etc.

So, this preoccupation with future trends or events is not just distracting but unhealthy. I would add, it is just stupid and unworthy of the attention of professional translators.

Finally, as far as our profession is concerned, there is no 'translation industry', period. Those who insist there is one, they're trying to sell you something.


Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:27
German to French
+ ...
Telling from the evolution of the last 10 years... Apr 23, 2017

I do not think the prices will get up, at least not on the internet.

Competition has gone up and big companies are sharing and reselling their TM and having the main chunks of translations done in low costs area.

I'd rather say the business is being split at the same average price. There are the translations made using TM or pretranslated. There will continue to move to the lowest bidder.
For some clients there is no expectation of quality. Once company i used to know and said they were losing business opportunities due to their clients feeling being taken rudely refused to take a linguist to solve the problem. They continue to search for an international experienced SALESMAN. They said they do not need a linguist they need a salesman. If they wanted their texts translated in a way that no one understand they will call for a translation agency. They had no idea that a real linguist could have helped their salesman by making them better aware of cross cultural differences.

On the other side there are the clients that are starting to understand that the translation is the window of the company and you cannot use a TM that had gone through the world and had been created for a a different product. This client will refuse TM, will want a new translation from scratch every time and will be very demanding on translation, proofreading and editing (and not just a spellcheck done by the PM of the agency). You will have to be very talented to keep on with these clients they want better than human perfection.

There is a third kind of client emerging. The one with a deep distrust of this global village stuff. They want the translator to be living in the area and go into their premises and these are ready to pay more; or cover the hassles of having a sworn translation for a private letter just to be sure that the translation had not circled 3 times the world before it reach the end translator but the end translator is a local whom they can keep his/her name on the translation - thum the translator being a humain being again.

The difficult thing when you are starting is to be talented enough to move out of the TM base pool to the base of clients seeing you are a person and respecting as such. Only there the prices will hold to a level you can live with.

About the prices, when i first used Proz in 2004 on another account, it was much easier as a beginner to get the average price you get now with 15 years experience. Many end clients were not searching online but paying the local price. I would not set my hopes too high on the prices increasing as a whole but maybe the pool of clients having bad experiences with the global village translations will continue to increase and it might come back to what it was 10 years ago.

[Edited at 2017-04-23 16:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-04-23 16:39 GMT]


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:27
German to English
Collapse of markets, increased reliance on MT Apr 23, 2017

Over the past 40 years I've seen the number of agencies increase with a corresponding leveling/reduction of rates. I expect this trend to continue, with fewer talented people entering the field, as the likelihood of making a solid middle-class income from translation within a few years diminishes. The downward price-quality spiral will intensify, and buyers of translation services will realize that they're not getting much bang for their buck as agencies reduce their rates to keep customers. Eventually corporate customers will see that Google or other MT platforms provide as good a translation as non-natives working for 3 cents/word or less. "Good enough" translations will be the norm. The result will be partial collapse of the LSP industry. The consequence will be a restructuring of the market – in terms of efficiency, which is not necessarily to the economic benefit of translators. There will be fewer agencies paying ever-decreasing rates. This has been the trend in other sectors of the economy, so there's little reason to believe that the translation industry will be spared.

As I recall, 20 years ago the ATA income survey showed an annual average of $65K for full-time US translators. The most recent survey showed a less than 10% average income growth, which in real terms represents slippage. I doubt if many translators these days dream of making $100K/year. Translators are working harder just to maintain their standard of living.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 02:27
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Well... Apr 24, 2017

... I have no crystal ball and, health permitting, I'll keep working at my own pace and doing what I want and can do whatever the evolution of the “translation industry”.

Please allow me to digress slightly from this topic but some dates seem to have a strange effect on my mind: at first sight, 2022 seemed to me very distant in time, when in fact we are just five years away…

Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The industry going one way and the profession going another Apr 24, 2017

I agree. I think there is going to be a clearer divide between the mechanical attitude and mechanical treatment of translation on one side, and on the other side those who understand that it will always be a guess and a calculation with MT.

OK, I have done some guessing and calculating myself for a couple of rushed jobs over the last weekend, when I could not get hold of the client to ask. However, I found solutions based on my experience and an colleague's KudoZ answer. (THANK YOU, it saved me a big headache!) They were guaranteed very different from anything a machine could come up with. I know for sure the KudoZ answer was correct, and I believe the others are - I could see that they matched details from the specific case I was working on.

These were abbreviations for products and statutory procedures and inspections, and there is no way a machine can be sure of finding the right one in a TM.

When Stephen Hawking works out what is going on in a black hole out in space, we have to believe him, because no one else has ever been there to check. He uses logic and reasoning far beyond any computer - and most human brains!
Setting a computer to calculate what LVE stands for in Danish and pick the right answer is not a question of algorithms. I found an approximate answer, which was wrong, and was going to add a footnote, until I checked my KudoZ question one more time...

It takes a human with time to find things like that, and there are far too many examples for machines to be reliable.

Another mechanical PITA which I hope will be relegated to the scrap heap is the practice of using software like X-bench and PerfectIT to check quality. They can be useful to check numbers and consistency, but mechanical consistency is sometimes incorrect - languages differ in their usage. (Cardinal numbers, percentages, dates, punctuation differences...)

There are routine texts where MT is almost acceptable, though the result is often un-idiomatic and difficult to read. For things that are here today and mulched tomorrow, they can be good enough.

I hope that in five years' time clients will be getting a better idea of when they can make do with industrial translation, and when they need a professional job!


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:27
Russian to English
+ ...
Alway think what you are buying. Apr 24, 2017

Companies which want to buy too many PMs should think twice--it is like publishers buying unrelated paragraphs, from different book. And, always have 1929 in mind. Edited posts disappear, by the way. The same problem as some time ago.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Edited posts disappear into...? Apr 24, 2017

Yes, Lilian, I started noticing it a week or so ago. Well, what can we do when Proz uses obsolete web design. I'm sure many at Fiverr or Mechanical Turks would be oh so happy to rebuild the site. Or maybe migrate this mastodon to Wordpress.

I'm more concerned about Microsoft's dominance in Europe: by European law, governments should require open standards on software bids, but Microsoft has about 70 lobbysts in Europe pushing local governments and the EU the other way: pay expensive software licenses to keep European governments captive for years to come.

Now that is more relevant to me than any idiotic futurist report, including Google's Kurzweil's pronouncements about the 'singularity.'


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