Translation statistics: Insights from the industry

translation statistics

Dating back to ancient civilizations, the practice of translation has played a pivotal role in bridging linguistic gaps, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and facilitating the dissemination of ideas. The 20th century saw a proliferation of translation as a professional practice. Moving forward, international organizations, diplomacy, and globalization further increased the demand for translation services.

Today, with close to 7,000 languages spoken globally, translation is not only a linguistic endeavor but also a cultural and technological one. Join us as we share some fascinating translation statistics that explore the intricacies of the language industry.

General translation statistics

According to W3Techs, the most common language on the Internet is English, which is used by 52.6% of all the websites. Spanish (5.4%), German (4.7%), Russian (4.6%), French (4.3%), Japanese (4.2%), and Portuguese (3%) are the next most used languages on the Internet.

A survey conducted by CSA Research across 29 countries in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America, found that 76% of global consumers, comprising 8,709 participants, express a preference for purchasing products that provide information in their native language. Furthermore, a significant 40% of respondents indicated that they would refrain from making purchases on websites that are not in their preferred language.

Data from a survey conducted by Paypal shows that 57% of online shoppers reported engaging in international shopping. Remarkably, within the last three months, two out of every five global shoppers have completed a cross-border purchase. Also worth mentioning is that another study from CSA Research found that a substantial 87% of B2C consumers expressed their reluctance to make purchases from websites that offer content exclusively in English.

Curious to find the best markets to sell online? According to Translated’s Research Center, expanding the translation of your website to include content for the United States, China, Japan, and Germany is projected to unlock access to approximately 50% of the global sales potential.

According to a survey by InboxTranslation, 63% of those surveyed reported working exclusively as freelance translators, 19% engage in both translation and interpretation, while the remaining 18% integrate translation with other freelance language-related services such as editing or copywriting.

The same survey found that 88% of the respondents, work from or into English, while the remaining 168 translate between languages other than English. For language combinations with English, the top three are Spanish, French, and German.

The European Language Industry Survey 2023 found that 64% percent of the survey participants were guided into the language industry through education related to translation or language studies.

A Tomedes poll addressing the subject of translation speed showed that 36% of translators are able to translate between 1,500 and 3,000 words on their most productive days. However, 25% of translators believe they can exceed this threshold when they are at their best.

Based on data from a ProZ survey, 88% of the surveyed translators utilize at least one Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tool for certain translation tasks. Among CAT tool users, 83% employ the tool for the majority or entirety of their translation assignments. Additionally, within this group, 76% leverage more than one CAT tool.

According to the same survey, among the translators using CAT tools in their work, the main areas of expertise were Tech/Engineering (34%), Business/Financial (15%), Marketing (12%), Medical (12%), and Law/Patents (11%.) The majority of the surveyees believe that using a translation software can boost their productivity by at least 30%.

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Language services statistics

Language services are provided by skilled professionals who understand not only the languages involved but also the cultural contexts in which communication takes place. The following translation statistics are proof of the importance of language services in a globalized world where businesses, organizations, and individuals interact with diverse linguistic communities.

According to Fact.MR, in 2022, the worldwide language services market was assessed at USD 60.68 billion, with a projected expansion to USD 96.21 billion by the end of 2032. This growth is anticipated to occur at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.94% throughout the mentioned timeframe.

From the Global Translation Service Market Research report, we learn that the translation service market size grew by 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due not only because of the need for translating various medical analyses, research, and data that was circulated among professional communities during those times, but also because many companies chose to capitalize on the opportunity of developing their businesses worldwide.

However, from the European Language Industry Survey 2023, we learn that language service companies and independent professionals expressed that 2022 fell short of their optimistic anticipations. Merely 44% of language service companies and 27% of independent professionals reported actual market growth in 2022, a figure more than 20% below their initial expectations.

Based on data from Statista, approximately 49% of the global language services market is dominated by Europe, with North America following closely at 39.41%.

In the United States, the translation services industry’s market size exhibited consistent growth from 2015 to 2022, reaching nearly 10 billion U.S. dollars. Over the period from 2012 to 2022, the market expanded by approximately 3.6 billion U.S. dollars, according to Statista.

In the 2023 Nimdzi 100 report, we learn that in 2022, the top 100 largest language service providers (LSP) represented only 19.6% of the entire language industry, marking an increase of 1.7 percentage points compared to 2021. This means that much of the of global language services are held by small to mid-sized companies.

According to the same report, the majority of the medium-to-large-sized language service providers of 2022 are headquartered in Europe (39.4%), followed closely by North America (37.6%). Next up are companies from Asia (17.6%) and Oceania (4.7%), while South America and the Middle Each each had only one LSP that was large enough to be included in the report.

Also based on Nimdzi’s data, the region with the largest client base in the language service industry in 2022 was Europe, accounting for a little over 48% of the client base, followed by North America (41%) and Asia (9.8%).

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Machine translation (MT) statistics

Machine translation enables the rapid translation of large volumes of text in a short amount of time. This efficiency is particularly valuable for businesses and organizations that require quick turnaround for content translation. As we can see from the following translation statistics relating to machine translation, the role of technology language industry will only continue to grow:

According to Global Market Insights, the machine translation market was valued at close to USD 1 Billion in 2022 and is estimated to register a CAGR of nearly 23% between 2023 and 2032. The value projection for 2032 is a staggering USD 7.57 Billion.

In the European Language Industry Survey 2023, machine translation is estimated to be used in more than 30% of professional translation business. Roughly 55% of academic participants project that MT will be employed in the majority of professional translation tasks by no later than 2030.

According to the European Language Industry Survey 2022, over 70% of independent professionals are incorporating machine translation to varying degrees, with half of them utilizing it only sporadically. Following translation memory and terminology management, it is currently the most extensively adopted technology among independent language professionals.

According to a survey from Unbabel, 39% of the marketers embrace machine translation as part of their localization strategies. Of these users, 83% are satisfied with the quality of the translations produced.

Leveraging translation machine systems can cut down the delivery time for translations by an average of 50%, and it can also result in a reduction of 20–30% in translation updates. (Reinke, U. (2013). State of the Art in Translation Memory Technology)

Based off its internal scoring system, G2 lists Google Translate as the top machine translation system, with a score of 4.6 out of 5. Following are Microsoft Translator, Translate Me, Google Cloud Translation API, and Rask AI.

Google Translate handles 146 billion words daily, surpassing the combined output of all professional translators worldwide in a month, says Nimdzi.

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To conclude

As we can see, these valuable translation statistics unveil a landscape shaped by the interplay between human expertise and technological advancements. The language service market statistics reflect a robust and expanding industry, driven by the global need for effective communication across diverse languages.

As we navigate through the data above, it becomes evident that machine translation has surged in prominence, demonstrating remarkable strides in accuracy and efficiency. Nonetheless, while the statistics surrounding machine translation underscore its growing role in the industry, human translation proves that it remains an indispensable force.

Also check out: Localization statistics

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