Translation trends in 2022

After another year of the pandemic, companies, workers and entire sectors of society have turned to digital services and remote work. The situation has also had a decisive influence on translation and language services. The data show some of the trends for 2022 in terms of technology, work models and business approaches.

Remote work is here to stay

Remote work was something new for many business sectors at the start of the pandemic; they sometimes found it difficult to adapt. Interestingly, professional translators have long been used to this working model. When COVID-19 hit, the language services industry was already prepared. Everything points to this trend continuing in 2022, even if restrictions are eased, thanks to the expected increase in vaccination and immunity of the world population.

This is because, in addition to professional translators’ natural attitude to remote work, the tools that help them continue to work from home are constantly evolving, ranging from improvements in group video call apps (Zoom, Teams, Skype) to other online tools such as Trello, Dropbox and Google Drive, which are especially useful for teamwork. Many companies have already signalled that they will keep up remote or ‘mixed’ models, even after the expected reduction in effects of the pandemic; so the world of work is unlikely to go back to the way it was.


Machine translation continues to evolve

Perception of machine translation is still undermined by some of its limitations, as this technology provides almost immediate (and cost-effective) translations, albeit of inferior quality, almost always requiring a human hand. This is the image that comes to mind when we think of online tools like Google Translate, whose sometimes confusing or even comical results have actually given rise to viral memes.

The reality is a little more complex. Thanks to advances in machine learning and neural networks, there is now a considerable difference between the early days of Google Translate in 2006 and the tools available in 2022. Post-editing work has, to some extent, given way to real-time collaboration between human and machine. Professional CAT software is equipped with algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies that improve results by recording errors, progressively implementing translator style and options and compiling vocabulary and glossaries.

The same applies to search engine apps, which collect feedback from their users to add to their databases. Machine translation is definitely part of the future of the translation industry.


Voice recognition applied to translation

Another area where enormous progress is being made is direct translation from human speech. An example of this is Microsoft’s online tool on the cloud computing service Azure, a speech recognition app that recognises the user’s speech, converts it into text and then automatically translates it into another language. Similar technologies had already appeared on platforms like YouTube, where it was possible to activate automatically-generated subtitles (with often incomprehensible results). However, the results are increasingly accurate, and they represent the future of translation, interpreting and subtitling.


Sectors with the highest demand

For obvious reasons, the last two years have seen an increased demand for translators in the medical field. In addition to mass infections, COVID-19 also spurred an increase in academic publications and social media content about the virus and pandemic in response to public anxiety and the need for scientists from all over the world to communicate.

Medical translation has always been in high demand, but 2022 will continue to be a year of growth for this specialised field, particularly with the rapid expansion of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Technical translation for commerce and business will have to incorporate new techniques and types of content. Localisation services will become increasingly important, as companies have to act more and more globally. This means investing in services such as interpretation for video-call meetings and conferences, website and software localisation and translation and adaptation of promotional materials to different languages and markets.

In the entertainment sector, the growth of streaming platforms around the world can be expected to continue – leading to an increase in demand for subtitling and dubbing services for films and series. The same is true for the video games market, which is gaining popularity on the Internet and in online models, also leading to a greater need for specialised localisation services in this area.

Finally, two years of the pandemic have led to unprecedented growth of the e-learning sector. Remote-training platforms require large numbers of translators to meet the needs of people all over the world who want to start or continue their training in a setting of lockdowns and restrictions.

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