The 10 Most Popular Language Industry Stories of 2021


2021 has been an extraordinary rollercoaster as the world has adjusted to a new normal of travel (and other) restrictions amid a powerful economic recovery. The language industry has once again proven its vital role in facilitating global trade. Big-name acquisitions are a vote of confidence, as are growing job opportunities — and, we’ve found, appreciation — for linguists, in fields from Big Tech to gaming and beyond. . What follows is a selection of the best Slator stories selected from a list of our most read articles.

1. A “precedent-setting” Polish court ruling defines professional translators

In a sign of the times, one of Slator’s most widely read stories of 2021 drew international attention to an August 2020 Polish trial that became existential. As expert witness Wojciech Woloszyk wrote in a February 2021 article about the case, simply receiving payment for a translation does not make someone a professional translator.

In its decision, the court found that, by definition, the person hired by a language service provider (LSP) to translate a book – a fifth-year computer science student who post-edited the output of Google Translate for 92% of the text – could not be considered a professional translator.


2. Big Tech looking for a few (OK, lots) of good linguists

For skilled linguists, traditional translation jobs abound, but Big Tech also abounds with new opportunities, many of which combine strong language skills with an interest in engineering, machine learning, and NLP. Among the most popular stories of 2021, another top performer included a sample of new job postings from some of the biggest known names, including Google, Apple and Tencent.

Meta (formerly known as Facebook), for example, needs language managers to help WhatsApp feel more “local” in 180 countries. In addition to auditing translations, Amazon product managers provide culturally relevant marketing and content for a specific country or market, with the goal of increasing customer adoption of resources available in their preferred language. .

3. Google Translate ER discharge instructions at your own risk

A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in March 2021 concluded that the quality of output from Google Translate is currently too inconsistent to be used for personalized instructions given to patients leaving the ER.

The team automatically translated the release instructions into seven languages ​​and asked bilingual community members — not professional translators — to review them. Quality varied considerably by language, with accuracy rates as low as 55% (Armenian) and 67.5% (Farsi).

Interestingly, community volunteer ratings for Spanish and Chinese (rated most accurate at 94% and 82%, respectively) were almost identical to those of professional translators in previous studies.

4. TransPerfect’s Big Buy: Semantix

Super Agency TransPerfect completed its largest ever M&A transaction by acquiring Swedish company LSP Semantix in July 2021.

TransPerfect CEO Phil Shawe declined to share details of the deal, but told Slator that at the time, Semantix was on track to generate $87 million in revenue for 2021, and that ” the multiple exceeds 1x the revenue”.

Sémantix was integrated as a division within TransPerfect, while retaining its more than 300 employees in 14 offices across the Nordics. Building on Semantix’s European deal win in December 2020, TransPerfect also planned to expand into the public sector and grow the combined organization’s interpretation offering.

2021 M&A and Funding Report Product

2021 Slator Report on M&A and Language Industry Financing

Data and Research, Slator Reports

46 pages on language industry mergers and acquisitions and venture capital funding. Includes financial investments, mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.

5. The Evolution of an Enigmatic and Successful Machine Translation Company DeepL

When Slator covered DeepL, the “secret” MT company based in Cologne, Germany, in September 2021, DeepL was the 146th most visited website in the world based on Alexa and more than a billion people had used its services for translation into 28 languages.

Originally founded in 2017, the company changed its business model in March 2018 from ad-generated revenue to enterprise subscription machine translation, an improved and more secure iteration known as DeepL Pro, for customers such as Best Buy, Nokia and Siemens.

Observers have taken notice of DeepL’s progress, including Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which took a 13.6% stake in the company in 2018. DeepL announced in a February blog post 2020 a new breakthrough that would result in more accurate target text. But DeepL’s new mission statement, to become Europe’s leading AI company, seems to imply that the company has set its sights on other AI language applications.

6. Good luck doing this job without a translator

Lest readers forget the humans involved in the language industry, Slator explored in October 2021 the roles in which translators will always be indispensable. Creative work, such as literary translation, subtitling and transcreation, has long been recognized as the domain of human translators – and rightly so.

But MT also relies heavily, directly and indirectly, on professional translators. Their work is the source of the MT training data, and they review and refine the results. Perhaps most relevant in 2021, as the lexicon of Covid-related terms has grown in languages ​​around the world, translators are also working as terminologists, helping to identify or invent target terms, or decide to leave terms untranslated.

Slator Pro Guide Translation Pricing and Provisioning

Professional Guide: Translation Pricing and Procurement

Data and Research, Slator Reports

45 pages on translation and localization pricing and procurement, human-in-the-loop models, and linguist compensation.

7. Zoom’s second acquisition, “Kites”, is an investment in voice translation

Video conferencing platform Zoom – one of the few clear winners in the age of Covid – announced in June 2021 its second acquisition, German simultaneous speech translation provider Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions (kites GmbH, aka “Kites” ).

Zoom’s keen interest in Kites speech-to-text translation (STT), in which speech is first transcribed and the resulting text then translated into the target language(s), has also led the company to “explore[e] opening an R&D center in Germany in the future.

The investment quickly paid off. At its annual Zoomtopia conference in September 2021, Zoom unveiled plans to introduce live, multilingual transcription and translation of (paid) calls starting in 2022.

8. Yale’s Translation Studies Program Set to Start in 2022

With new job opportunities popping up in Big Tech (see above) and other fields (see below), students might well consider adding translation to their course loads. Beginning in the 2022 academic year, students at Yale University will be able to do so.

Ivy League University’s new Certificate in Translation Studies program, the culmination of two years of work by the Yale Translation Initiative, has reportedly received “unanimous” support from the university. The program will be open to undergraduate and graduate students of any major. Capstone projects can take the form of 40 hours of community service (eg legal internships, asylum applications); a scientific article; or an original translation of a text.

Slator Tongue Industry Market Report 2021

Data and Research, Slator Reports

80 pages. Market size by vertical, geo, intent. Loop expert model. MY. Frontier Technology. Future Hybrid. Outlook 2021-2025.

9. Checking the new Apple Translate app

The Apple Translate app faced stiff competition when it went live in September 2020 – namely Google Translate – and, as Slator discovered in March 2021, Apple Translate struggled to gain traction. More immediately, the app’s limited scope of languages ​​(11) for voice and text translation at the time of release, as opposed to the 30 languages ​​already supported, put Apple Translate at a disadvantage, especially when compared to support for Google Translate text translation support for 108 languages. Google Translate is also available for the iPhone and iPad, while Apple Translate can only be used on the iPhone – and even there, according to some reviewers, without some useful features.

10. Spotlight on Japanese Game Translators

Rounding out our Top 10 is Slator’s Japanese game translation tour of June 2021, a world in which translators may not appear in the credits but may have tens of thousands of loyal social media followers.

The boundary between fan and translator is not always so clear. While more than a few professional translators in this field got their start with fan translations, some linguists believe that fan translations diminish the appreciation and demand for professional translation (as is assumed to be the case with unofficial translation of Nintendo’s “Mother 3”).

Other professional translators hope highlighting industry-wide issues, such as perpetual NDAs and lack of visibility, on international platforms will help effect change, as some online highs are advocating. responsible for the client side.

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