Translation Services Industry in the U.K.

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Translation Services Industry in the U.K.

Most Requested Translations

In the UK, translation is primarily done from English into Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), German, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Swedish and Japanese. Machine translation services popular in the UK are able to translate from English into these languages.

From English

  • While English is still the primary language on the internet, this is rapidly changing.
  • In the UK, the primary language from which to translate for Machine Translating software is English. This was determined based on the fact that major UK machine translation company SDL has the most translation options available from English.
  • English was also highlighted in the ATC UK survey, which included all pricing information as translating from English, illustrating that this is a commonly requested service.
  • These findings make sense, as English is the primary language in the UK, spoken by 98% of the country's residents.

Into European, Asian and Middle Eastern Languages

  • Based on the ATC UK Survey, common languages to be translate into from English include Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), German, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Swedish and Japanese.
  • Out of these, Spanish is the cheapest, so it can be assumed that it is very common. Japanese is the most expensive, so it can be assumed that that is more specialized.
  • All of these languages are provided by SDL Machine Translation, indicating that they are common for machine translation as well.
  • The top languages for Translate Media, also a key machine translation company in the UK, are French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish.
  • This also echos the findings that, globally, the most requested languages to be translated from English are Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Canadian French, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Italian.
  • This is also in line with some of the most common languages aside from English that are spoken in the UK, which include Arabic, French, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. Notably, Indian and Pakistani languages and Polish are some of the most common languages in the UK aside from English, but they are not mentioned as top languages for translation.

Into English

  • The ATC UK survey shows that within the UK, German and Simplified Chinese are commonly translated into English.
  • SDL Machine Translate is also able to translate some languages into languages other than English. For example, they can translate Japanese into English and Simplified Chinese; German into many languages including Arabic, Russian and Polish; French into Arabic, English and Dutch, to name a few; Italian into French, English, German and Spanish, and Spanish into Arabic, English, German, Italian, Catalan, French, and Portuguese.
  • Globally, other languages that are most commonly translated into English include French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic. Languages that are gaining in popularity to be translated into English include Polish, Hungarian, and Czech.
  • As English is still the primary language utilized on the internet, it is clear why many companies would want to translate their information into English.

Research Strategy

The research team was unable to find information on the most commonly requested translations for machine translation services in the UK. We also attempted to find information on the most common languages for machine translations globally, but we were unable to find any insights using this method. We also attempted to identify the most commonly requested translations in the UK generally, and not specific to machine translation, however, we were unable to find this information as well. We were able to find insights on the most commonly translated languages. Therefore, to compile the above insights, the research team utilized information from the top machine translation companies in the UK and information on the most commonly translated languages to logically estimate what the top languages for machine translation in the UK are, believe that these would be highlighted on the websites of such companies and also among the most commonly translated languages globally.

Opportunities for Growth

Two opportunities for growth in the MT market are the increased use of MT and thus the services that compliment it, as well as an increase in the demand for Statistical Machine Translation.

Increased Use of MT

  • Surveys focusing on UK-based translators show that machine translation is becoming more common and more frequently used.
  • This mirrors the global machine translation market, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% from 2020-2024, or a growth of $971.87 million.
  • As use of MT services grows, additional opportunities for growth are created including MT with post-editing, MT engine training with client data, MT engine comparison and evaluation, integration of MT into customer products, hosting MT engines, reselling server and on-premise MT solutions, and eDiscovery.
  • By utilizing MT, companies are able to increase their win rate and procure more business. They are also able to improve efficiency.
  • The growth of the MT market globally is due to the ever-increasing globalization of business.
  • As MT grows, another opportunity will be in training vendors for MT post-editing. This is because 22.58% of UK MT translation companies have indicated that they need to train their vendors in this area but have not done so yet, and 13% of companies that do train their vendors utilize a third-party to do so, indicating that there is room for growth in this area.

Increased Demand for SMT

  • Demand for SMT services has grown significantly since 2015, "due to its effectiveness over RBMT in terms of time and cost. It is also expected to remain the largest technology market through 2022."
  • MarketWatch predicts that Statistical Machine Translation is expected to maintain the major market share of the MT market, in part because "a big advantage of SMT is the handiness of platforms and algorithms. This means that a lot of the work for building and training a corpus might already be done, and can be found at a much cheaper rate than usual. As a result, one can train and add new languages quickly, in contrast to other MT models."
  • SMT is also growing in popularity because of global leaders like Google and Microsoft, whom have made SMT engines free in some area of the globe.
  • Companies in the UK are working with SMT as well, for example, the Edinburgh MT group at the University of developed the Moses toolkit in 2005 "using a statistical approach. This toolkit has been one of the main drivers in making MT more accessible to small and medium-sized companies."
  • Some of the leading translation software companies globally are based in the UK, like SDL which offers SMT, as does The Big Word and RWS.
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