Why Is the Language Industry Growing? The Main Reasons
The language industry is booming. Market studies spell out a rosy outlook for this sector made up of companies that provide translation, interpreting, transcription, localization, subtitling, dubbing, language training, language testing, and various other language services.
Based on the Language Services Market:2018 report by Common Sense Advisory, the estimated global market value of the language services and technology industry in 2018 was $46.5 billion. It is estimated to reach $56.1 billion by 2021 or a growth of around 20%. In the United States, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics project a 19% job growth from 2018 to 2028. This figure is considerably higher than the average job outlook in the country. On the other hand, a market study from IBIS World finds that the number of language companies in the United States grew by 3.6% for the 2013-2018 period. This growth propelled the language service industry into becoming the fourth fastest growing industry in the United States.
What are the reasons for this growth of the language industry? What makes this industry one of the leading growth drivers for the United States economy? The reasons can be summed up by two interconnected phenomena: globalization and Internet penetration.
1. Ever Growing Globalization
This one’s a no-brainer. There’s demand for language services because people in different parts of the world seek to connect with each other. This connection is mostly about commerce and trade, but there are also entertainment, academic, and sociopolitical aspects.
Overall global economic growth at present may leave a lot to be desired, but globalization continues its spread. While export-import activities are slowing down, other aspects of globalization have been advancing ceaselessly. There’s the expanding reach of K-pop in the entertainment aspect, for example, which generates increased demand for subtitlers, transcriptionists, and multilingual hosts and translators for fan events.
In academics, it’s not only abroad-bound students who use language services. More importantly, academics in different parts of the world turn to dependable language solutions as they share findings, new discoveries, breakthroughs, and other information.
World governments, on the other hand, are regularly communicating with each other, something that requires reliable translators and interpreters. Even governments with diverse demographics also heavily use language services as they communicate with their citizens and render services. The United States, for instance, has laws that make it compulsory for certain agencies to hire translators and interpreters.
Globalization is different from internationalization and localization. However, these terms are interrelated. When businesses try to globalize, they have the option to internationalize their product or localize it. Internationalization refers to the presentation or modification of a product to make it appeal to a wider market. For example, smartphones marketed for the international market are usually shipped with English as the default language and pre-installed with apps intended for English speakers.
Localization, on the other hand, is doing the opposite. Smartphones bound for Japan, for example, are subjected to configurations optimized for Japanese users. This means selecting Japanese as the default language, preloading apps often used in Japan, and providing “standard” Japanese smartphone features such as splash or water resistance and 1seg.
Both internationalization and localization are strategies employed to make products compatible with target markets. Both create demands for language translation services. That’s why many language companies are now offering internationalization and localization solutions. It bears pointing out, though, that localization is not the opposite of globalization. The need to localize arises because businesses try to expand to global markets. Unfortunately, internationalization is not enough in certain markets as consumers may have distinct preferences like seeing product packaging that use their local language. Also, there may be product features that are deemed offensive in certain cultures, so they need to be modified or taken out.
2. Growing Penetration of Internet
Boosting the rise of globalization is the steadily growing popularity of the Internet. As more people gain online access, more people are exposed to information and content that are in different world languages. Add social media into the mix and you get netizens who are eager to meet new people, learn new things, discover new places, consume tons of content, and avail of online products and services.
The Internet is arguably one of the most powerful driving forces behind the advancement of globalization. Incidentally, it is also one of the reasons why the language industry is growing. The Internet has created new businesses or entire industries that depend on language services so they can be marketed in global markets.
Mobile apps and games, for example, have become popular because of increased Internet penetration. They are localized to make them more appealing to users who use different languages. The same goes for software products (sold online) and various online services. There are also language service providers that specialize in search engine optimization for specific target languages as well as those that provide marketing solutions customized for specific markets.
There’s a lot of optimism for the growth of the language industry because of the continuous rise of globalization and the growing availability of the Internet. As more people around the world find the need to interact with each other, the language service industry will only continue to expand.