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The Language Industry

The Language Services Industry bridges language and cultural barriers amongst diverse populations through a deep understanding of cultural meanings and linguistic nuance. Because communication is fundamental to human interaction, this industry and what it provides are relevant to almost every part of our daily lives.

Explore more detail about the industry in these sections.

 



The Need for Language Services

Both globalization and immigration are driving growth of the language services industry. More than 350 different languages are spoken in the U.S. alone. Due to this diversity and the sustained increases in the number of persons who don’t speak English in the United States, employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 19% by 2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that 67.3 million persons in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home which has more than doubled in the last 30 years. More than 25 million in the U.S. are classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP). LEPs do not speak English as their primary language and have limited ability to read, write, or understand the language to communicate effectively. And the greatest language needs vary greatly in different regions, different industries, and for different purposes.

Over the last 40 years, the languages most commonly spoken in the US other than English have shifted (US Census Bureau).

 

1980
  1. Spanish
  2. Italian
  3. German
  4. French
  5. Polish
  6. Chinese
  7. Tagalog
  8. Greek
  9. Portuguese
  10. Japanese

 

 

Today
  1. Spanish
  2. Chinese
  3. French
  4. Tagalog
  5. Vietnamese
  6. Korean
  7. German
  8. Russian
  9. Italian
  10. Portuguese

 

 

1 out of every 5 people in the US
speaks a language other than English at home

 

Limited English speaking and deaf and hard of hearing individuals are entitled to services by law. Such laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; Americans with Disabilities Act; HIPAA; Affordable Care Act/Section 1557; and the Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Act.

Language services are offered, not only if it’s mandatory, but also because it’s the right thing to do. Effective communication helps any type of organization improve their customer/patient satisfaction, increases productivity of staff, builds loyalty and enhances their image in the communities they serve. Many businesses also use language services to help reach more potential customers, or provide better support to existing customers.


LEP Individuals
  • 80% prefer mother-tongue website purchases
  • 85% decide to purchase when information is in their language
  • 72% will only buy products sold in their preferred language
  • 74% are more likely to make a repeat purchase of the after-sales care is in their language
  • 80% desire customer care in their language

Common Sense Advisory Report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”


 



Size of the Industry

Language services are provided throughout the world, with North America owning the largest share of the market. And according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3,000 different companies in just the US employee more than 55,000 people in the language services industry.



 



Growth of the Industry

The industry has seen continued growth year over year, and it projects to maintain increases into the future. A report by the Centre for Next Generation Localisation places language services as the fourth fastest-growing industry in the United States. And the number of jobs in translation and interpretation services is predicted to increase 29% from 2017 to 2024.



 



Main Services

 

Translation
Converting written text from one language (source) to another (target), keeping the same information, style, and tone
Interpretation
Rendering spoken or signed communication between users of different languages, either in person or even over the phone or video
Localization
Adapting content (often websites and software) for a specific locale or market to ensure that it is appropriate for the target audience linguistically, culturally, politically, and technically
Transcription
Converting audio recordings in one language to written text in another language
Subtitling
Adding text to video that displays the audio track either verbatim, summarized, or translated
Voiceover/Dubbing
Creating a new audio track for video, either to add a disembodied voice or narration (voiceover), or to replace the voices of the original actors with voices in a different language (dubbing)
Language Training
Helping others acquire skills in a second or foreign language using a coordinated curriculum and process
Language Testing
Evaluating or measuring an individual’s ability to use a particular language effectively, sometimes for specific purposes


 



Common Clients


Language Service Companies (LSC) work with people and companies in many industry sectors—from medical to government, technology to legal, education to finance. You’ll find translators, interpreters, language trainers, and other language service professionals in hospitals, courts, schools and universities, government offices, and military bases.

 

 

Industries Commonly Requiring Services
  • Federal, State, and Local Government
  • Healthcare and Medical
  • Financial
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Legal
  • Technology
  • Insurance
  • Education
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Software
  • Social Services

 


 



Future of the Industry

Employment is increasing in the industry, with a majority of larger LSPs expecting to hire in North America and Europe. Finding and retaining the right talent is noted as one of the biggest challenges.

With technology advancements comes concerns over the future of interpretation and translation. Google, Apple, and Microsoft offer of applications that translate either the written or the spoken word. Is this a crisis or an opportunity? According to willrobotstakemyjob.com, stop worrying. There’s only a 38% chance that will happen. They note a 29% projected growth by 2024.

But will there always be a place for humans in language services? According the Wall Street Journal, “Is Your Job Creative Enough to Resist Robot Automation”, there’s a low probability of being replaced.

Until automation can replace human thought and understanding we will depend on interpreters and translators to accurately provide language assistance especially in complex and life-affecting situations.