In 2013 Let’s Remove the “Language Barrier” from Our Vocabulary
The so-called “advanced” economies of the world spent last year in a funk and their sideways slide along a variety of cliffs will continue well into 2013. Meanwhile, other global markets are picking up the slack. The old BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, though still going strong, are losing ground to new artificial groupings like Next 11 (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Turkey), CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa), and MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey).
Against this motley economic landscape, our language industry is thriving. Why? Because we represent the one thing that is truly indispensable in all global commerce and communication. Think about it: There are lots of options to design, package, transport, and market products. If one way doesn’t work, there is always another alternative. But no matter what is being sold, it all requires language. If that language isn’t yours, then those products don’t exist for you as a consumer. In other words, if you don’t speak the language they’re talking to you in, there is no alternative. Language (and that means translation!) is irreplaceable.
For too long, language has been called a “barrier,” an obstacle to overcome. And that epithet has also helped mischaracterize the process of translation as troublesome, expensive, and hard. That’s the wrong way to look at it. Translation represents an opportunity; it’s the enabler for goods and services to actually reach customers all over the world. Without translation, global commerce would be a waste of time! So, as the language industry once again fuels global growth in 2013, let’s focus on what we enable:
- Language is big business with an even bigger impact. Our industry generates tens of billions of dollars in its own right, but, more importantly, we make trillions of dollars in global commerce possible.
- Today’s language service providers – our GALA members – would be virtually unrecognizable to their counterparts from a generation ago. We are professionally trained, tech savvy, globally networked and on call 24/7/365. Collectively we have unprecedented resources to reach every customer on the globe.
- We now offer the best language technologies in a generation, so we enable access to exploding multilingual content for more people in the world, more quickly than ever before.
Ubiquitous, real-time, on-demand translation is still a far-off dream, but if and when it comes, it will stand squarely on the shoulders of today’s robust and vibrant language industry. So let’s stop talking about barriers and start talking about opportunities!