Interpreting for the world market

Translation is more than just word;it’s also about knowing cultures

Tamara Kelly
Staff Writer 

Written translation is a 15 billion dollar business and interpreter’s jobs have reached the double digits, in spite of the current recession. While some jobs are being outsourced and eliminated, Translators are a booming industry.

Natalie Kelly, author of ‘Found in Translation’ has made interpreting her life’s work.  Kelly who is also Chief Research Officer for Common Sense Advisory spoke about the industry to the new students pursing a carrier in translation.

Kelly’s main point was that as translators, they need to remember they’re “Working with people and serving people.” As an interpreter there is more to the job than just translating from one language to another. It’s also about knowing what fluctuations need to be addressed in translating and some of the cultural issues that don’t translate well.

One example of this is how the number 13 is unlucky in America, but the No. 4 is unlucky in some Asian cultures.  As a translator knowing simple faux pas like this can make the difference between being employed and being asked back again.

Companies all around the world mainly use translators in two ways. Written translation and onsite interprets. Written translation makes up about $15 billion of the market, while $5 billion of it is onsite interpretation.

“Of those [world wide] companies only about 29% is located in North America and Canada. Europe is the biggest market ­– the biggest percentage of the market.” Said Kelly.

“English is becoming less important each year in terms of the overall content that is on the web.” Kelly went on to explain, most companies need at least 12 languages in order to reach 80% of the population on line.

“Companies like Coke-Cola, Chevrolet, and other local companies are starting to realize they need to have websites in several other languages in order to reach their market.” Said Kelly, “Companies can easily have their sites translated and get their products and services sold to them.”

Another market that is opening up for interpreters is something called Trans creation. This is when a translator creates a word that isn’t available in another language. Computers have not been able to do this task, making it something that relies on people to do.

As the needs of companies go global so do the skills of their employees. Making the demand for translators and interpreters a fixed necessity for an expanding business.