skip to Main Content

For better or for worse? Technological advances in the language industry

The language services industry is big business; a recent study by the ATC showed that the UK market is now the third largest in the world, worth over £1 billion annually. This is only expected to rise; with the global turnover of the market expected to be in the region of 50 billion USD by 2019.

It¹s clear that the demand for linguistic services is increasing rapidly, with more opportunities emerging. The fact that these opportunities mean the introduction of new technologies is to some, inevitable. But others are skeptical; worried that corners are going to be cut, standards lowered, and that the market will be Œuberised¹, all of which resulting in the decline of interpreting and translations jobs.

A quick browse online shows you there are thousands of apps that can translate and interpret words and sentences for you. Skype even has a translate feature that Œcan help you communicate in 7 languages for voice calls, and in more than 50 languages while instant messaging.¹ Multilingual communication really seems to be just at the click of a button, or so we¹re being led to believe.

But let¹s face it, software like this can only help you order a coffee, read a bus timetable or ask a distant relative who speaks another language how their day has been. It will never be advanced or nuanced enough to replace highly trained, qualified language professionals and the work they do.

The Linguali app is not part of this wave of Œuberisation¹. Our technology is not designed to replace interpreters, it is designed to make their job easier. No more high costs, no more carrying around expensive and heavy equipment, no more confusing interfaces at events, no more chasing people around for headsets. Sounds perfect, right? And that is the best part, our app is made by interpreters for interpreters, so it really does do what it says on the box.

Multilingual conferences and meeting rooms are not disappearing, quite the opposite, there are more than ever before and it is our responsibility to make them as accessible as possible. Yet we have spoken to event organisers who have never used interpreters until now because of the prohibitive costs associated with language services.

In spite of this, there is still a hesitation from some to embrace any type of technology, even a tool that can help with the demand for high quality language services. An example of this is with traditional agencies, many of whom still claim that for simultaneous interpretation to work there needs to be sophisticated, specialised equipment, and the technicians who have the expertise to run it. When now, that really is not true. With everyone owning a smartphone or web-enabled device, why not let them be part of the solution? Instead of fighting technology, embrace it and make it work for you.

As Bill Wood, the founder of DS Interpretation, said: ³Interpreters will never be replaced by technology, they will be replaced by interpreters who use technology².

Back To Top