What’s in the Crystal Ball for the Translation Industry in 2017?

Last Updated On: March 16, 2018

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Translation Trends

January is traditionally the time of year when those in business think about the year ahead and what might lie in store for them. The translation industry is no different. Here are some translation and localisation trends that seem to be appearing in the 2017 crystal ball.

2017 Trend #1 A Continuing Boom in App Translation

There is no sign that the explosive growth in the number of apps is going to slow down during 2017. By June last year (2016) there were over 5.7 million different apps that could be downloaded from the main app stores. That growth is going to continue this year and app developers will endeavour to cut their costs and maximise profits by looking for app translators to translate their apps into as many different languages as they can sell apps with!

2017 Trend #2 A Rise in Literary Translation

There has been a hunger for literary works by foreign writers and poets over the last few years, partly fuelled by excellent translation work by literary translators. By all indications this is going to continue this year, too. Good examples are the popular writings of Haruki Murakami and Elena Ferrante, whose works were received with pleasure all over the world in 2016.


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    2017 Trend #3 Machine Translation Improves But not Enough to Replace Human Translators

    There is a huge commercial incentive to improve the quality of machine translation and any technological breakthrough should be closely watched for by professional translators and translation agencies. Big players like Facebook, Google and Amazon will be looking to perfect what is available today, but it doesn’t look as if MT is going to replace human translators during 2017, at least for anything other than the most trivial and casual translation tasks.

    2017 Trend #4 A Drop in Demand for Language Learning

    One of the most obvious changes that took place during 2016 was the rise in anti-globalisation sentiment and nationalist sentiments, particularly in the U.S. and parts of Europe. This seems set to continue in 2017 in unpredictable ways. It may affect the number of people who wish to learn another language, especially in Europe.
    It seems no coincidence that some of the most nationalist signs have been coming from countries that are relatively reluctant to learn anything except the native language. Britain, Italy and Hungary, for instance, are the three most monolingual countries in Europe. It’s hard to say how this will affect the demand for professional translators, but generally the less languages people speak, the greater the need for translation, so we’ll see!

    2017 Trend #5 A Bigger Demand for Video Translation

    YouTube and other online video streaming is being watched like never before and many of the viewers (70% and up) are non English speakers. Here is a golden opportunity for professional video translators.

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