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Translation Industry Headed for a “Future Shock” Scenario
(BOSTON) – Language service providers and freelancers translate hundreds of millions of words per day; supporting global trade, diplomacy, tourism, and a host of other international and domestic multicultural activities. Advances in machine translation have enabled greater volumes of translation to take place than ever before by automating some of that content. What is the current state of human translation throughput, and can it support the demand for content that organizations would like to have translated? Will the rates of growth make machine translation an absolute necessity?  

Independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory’s latest survey-based report, “Translation Future Shock,” provides data that buyers and suppliers can use to benchmark the productivity and effectiveness of the language services they currently purchase or provide. The findings point to a “future shock” scenario – major structural and technological changes in a short timeframe for which providers are simply unable to address market demand without changing how they operate.

Comments Don DePalma, Chief Strategy Office at Common Sense Advisory: “We see a phenomenon in translation as it shifts from a cottage industry to a much more technology-dependent one, with large volumes of content flowing in many directions.” He adds, “The data leads us to believe we are approaching a turning point, at which the language services industry will need to reinvent itself.”

The report provides data from a survey of the productivity of language service providers (LSPs) and reveals numerous important findings:
  • The majority of translated content is new. How many words are “brand new” words, translated for the first time, without any use of translation memory software? The rate was 59.38% for translation companies and 59.11% for freelancers, which means that approximately 40% of content translated takes advantage of previous translation work.
  • Translation productivity has stagnated. The report found that individual translators on average produce 2,684 words per day, while the average LSP reported a daily output of 43,546 words. The average LSP processes 5,728 words per hour, whereas freelancers translate an average of 443 words hourly. The longstanding industry benchmark for translator output has been 2,500 words per day. Productivity increases have been minimal over the last decade.
  • Many have tried machine translation. The survey also sought to determine the percentage of translation volume that was assisted by machine translation (MT) software. Less than half of translation companies (44.02%) and more than half of freelancers (55.00%) stated they had tried MT at some point.
For more information about “Translation Future Shock” visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com.

About Common Sense Advisory
Common Sense Advisory is an independent market research company helping companies profitably grow their international businesses and gain access to new markets and new customers. Its focus is on assisting its clients to operationalize, benchmark, optimize, and innovate industry best practices in translation, localization, interpreting, globalization, and internationalization. For more information, visit: http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com or www.twitter.com/CSA_Research.

Media contact: Melissa C. Gillespie, Melissa@commonsenseadvisory.com, +1 760-522-4362
Submitted On: 5/25/2012

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