When it comes to language services, many people are not aware that it is a separate industry that is actually thriving both in the USA and all over the world. Perhaps it’s the only industry in the world that has almost no awareness outside its niche of what it actually entails.
In general, the language industry encompasses activities that are dedicated to facilitating both oral and written communication between communities speaking different languages. As such, it includes a great variety of services and also features sign language interpreting.
To understand why language services are among the most demanded in the USA, it is necessary to grasp the meaning of the industry for the business and take into account a series of global factors that have affected its growth directly and indirectly, such as the popularization of social media, the technological advancement, and the increasing number of internet users, which bring multilanguage communication to a whole new level.
What Stands Behind the Term Language Services?
The language industry offers a range of services, which have a different scope according to various organizations. Some of the most popular concepts are the following:
- The Association of Language Companies, the US national trade entity, lists the following services as the main ones included in the industry: translation, interpretation, localization, transcription, subtitling, voiceover/dubbing, language training, and language testing.
- GALA, the Globalization and Localization Association, points out that language services are used by various stakeholders who want to globalize, internationalize, localize, translate, and interpret all types of content for their audiences.
- The European Commission’s Directorate-General of Translation defines the language industry as comprising of the activities of translation, interpreting, subtitling and dubbing, software and website globalization, language technology tools development, international conference organization, language teaching, and linguistic consultancy.
- The Canadian Language Industry Association defines the sector as including translation (with interpreting, subtitling, and localization), language training, and language technologies.
- The European Language Industry Association limits the sector to translation, localization, internationalization and globalization.
It is obvious, that the language industry is quite significant in terms of scope and it is natural that it should be in one of the leading positions in terms of growth as well.
Language Services in the USA
According to the “The Language Services Market: 2018” report by Common Sense Advisory (CSA), the global market for outsourced language services and technology was around $46.5 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $56.18 billion in 2021.
An industry market research report by IBIS World reveals that the Translation Services in the US have grown by 1.3% for the period 2013-2018 and reported a revenue of $5 billion for 2018. For the same period, the number of companies increased with 3.6% and employees raised their numbers by 4.8%.
This robust growth in recent years, placed the language service industry as the fourth-fastest growing and performing industry in the USA. The figures are confirmed by various research data. A report from the Center for Next Generation Localisation in Dublin puts language services as the fourth-fastest industry in the United States. A publication in azcentral based on data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that Translation and Interpretation services occupy the fourth place in terms of growth for the past decade. Over the period between 2008 and 2017 employment growth rocketed by 111.3% and wage growth experienced an increase of 90.6%.
The forecast is, that language services will continue to be highly demanded all over the world as a result of the processes of globalization. In the USA alone, the growing diversity of the population and the business expansion to international trade are one of the factors that will support further growth in the industry.
Demand for Language Services is Skyrocketing Across the World
Professional language services are nothing new. Translation and interpretation services have been part of our lives since mankind invented trade millennia ago. With time, they have evolved significantly to include more and more activities. The invention of internet and the technological advancement created demand for new services such as website translation, software localization, or desktop publishing.
You can find professionals offering expert advice in the field of languages everywhere. In our schools. In our courts. In our hospitals and healthcare facilities. In entertainment. In billions of dollars of marketing activities across the world.
Why all of a sudden are language services booming?
There are many answers to this question but we can focus on three main reasons that led to this expansion:
- The explosion in social media has created unprecedented demand for seamless language translation. It is no longer possible for brands to actively engage foreign customers outside of their preferred language. Dutch is a great example. Nine out of 10 Dutch speakers speak English as a second language. But when the Dutch are communicating between themselves via social media, they often do so in their own language and local dialects. To join the conversation, brands simply have to speak and understand the language. Harvard Business Review warns companies that they should speak to customers in their own language if they want to make sales and be profitable. “Can’t read, won’t buy” still remains a powerful paradigm among customers with a survey carried out by Common Sense Advisor revealing that 56.2% of internet users deem a product description in their own language as more important than price, while a whooping 72.4% state that they will be more inclined to buy certain product if the information about it is provided in their own language. Thus, marketing translation and localization becomes a necessity rather than an option.
- Globalization is a significant trend everywhere. Geographical boundaries no longer limit markets as they have in the past. Communicating beyond your own borders requires professional language skills, even within the same language, such as the difference between American and British English. Subtle nuances and cultural differences may be the reason for a business success and their lack can lead to a company collapse.
- The Internet has spawned hundreds of new linguistic communities. Regional languages, like Hausa, Ibo, Tamil and Quechua, have never had a global medium for communicating in their respective tongues. Not so anymore. For example, the World Economic Forum reports that the fastest growing foreign language speakers in the USA are actually native Telugu speakers from the Indian community. Many of these often-overlooked languages have millions of speakers, and to reach them effectively, professional language skills are increasingly necessary.
Specifically, for the USA, we can add that the legal stipulations of title IV of the Civil Rights Act that requires each health care institution to provide medical interpretation to its patients is yet another reason backing the growth of language services demand.
Languages are meant to help people communicate with each other and language services bridge the gap between the users of different languages and facilitate multilingual information exchange.
What specific language services do you need? ICD Translation is here to answer your questions—in any language.
This is America’s fastest growing language. Clue: It might not be what you expect, World Economic Forum
Translation Services Industry in the US, IBISWorld
Speak to Global Customers in Their Own Language, Harvard Business Review