Trends in Translation: What to expect in 2020

Trends in Translation: What to expect in 2020

Jan 28, 2020

2020 is upon us now. What developments will this new year and decade bring in terms of global language needs? According to a survey, 60% of respondents see a positive or very positive year ahead for the language industry. Let’s look at changes in who will be accessing and consuming information how and with what expectations that will create new localization needs in 2020 and beyond.

Changes to your Language Selection

The use of smartphones and the internet for communication, e-commerce, entertainment and education is exploding in markets with large economic growth like China, Brazil, India and Malaysia, to name a few. Countries with surging youth populations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East represent a rapidly growing consumer demographic. Many people in these fast-emerging markets have low English proficiency and are accessing the content in their native languages. Increased demand for native language support is also growing in Russia with its large population of young, technically savvy internet users and in India, where a growing sector of middle-class entrepreneurs have shifted from using English to local languages to conduct digital business. Languages which should see increased translation and localization demand in the coming years include Indian languages - Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Marathi - as well as Simplified Chinese (Mandarin), Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Vietnamese, Indonesian and African languages such as Swahili, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.

More Localization of Streaming Content

We can expect localization and subtitling of video content to become an even greater focus of localization efforts. Expanded internet bandwidth has made streaming video content viable worldwide. And, with low mobile device and data costs, streaming video content has also opened the internet to an immense pool of new users, many with low literacy rates. Online videos are being watched by an especially high percentage of internet users in Saudi Arabia and Turkey (95%), China (92%), Mexico, Philippines and Spain (88-87%) and India, Brazil and the US (85%). There is a clear consumer-oriented regional focus of content and language in this channel. In India, for example, about 96% of the country’s 500 million internet users consume Indian languages online and this number is projected to grow.

Expansion of Speech-based Translation

Technology which allows users to interact with their devices and applications by simply speaking to them is booming. The elimination of the need for keyboard input opens the internet to expanded user groups and scenarios. It was widely predicted that by the end of 2020, 50% of all online searches will be performed by voice search (think Alexa and Siri) and that 30% of all browsing sessions will be solely voice-based, without a screen. This may turn out to be a conservative estimate. To support this development, translation and localization will need to focus on speech-to-text and speech-to-speech translation which combine automatic voice recognition, machine translation and voice synthesis as currently pioneered by Google’s Translatotron and Microsoft Azure.

Quality Expectations

The changes described above will more decisively shape users’ linguistic quality expectations than ever before.

  • Speech-to-speech translation: Translation quality is more challenging given the colloquial, nonstandard and informal style of spontaneous speech. Final translation quality also depends on errors caused by the automatic speech recognition. While most users currently accept “good enough” translations, as this technology develops, quality expectations will grow.
  • eLearning: The greater the academic focus of eLearning programs, the more important conventional definitions of translation accuracy will remain. In eLearning programs that are more skills-oriented or informal (using chatbots, for example) it will be less important for the localized version to align directly to the original source language.
  • eCommerce: as online global marketing strategies become more mature and refined the transcreation of content will become more important, to ensure that brand messaging is appropriately conveyed to increasingly regional target audiences.

OmniLingua is looking forward to the changes and innovations of 2020 and the new decade. As you examine future global business plans we would be glad to discuss and help you develop language strategies to meet the new challenges ahead.

Category: eLearning

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