Last month, many of us shared our personal and professional aspirations for 2021 in a post which you can read here. This month, we’d like to take a look at the wider industry and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for translators in 2021.
Despite a challenging 2020, one of the most encouraging things that we have seen in the last year has been the level of international cooperation in areas such as scientific research and health care, something which can only be a positive development for those of us working with languages. Other key areas for growth that are relevant to translators are new forms of entertainment and interaction. E-commerce has, unsurprisingly, become huge in the last twelve months, and with online shopping becoming increasingly international in character, this seems likely to be an area in which multilingual content becomes more and more important, particularly for companies looking to reach new or emerging markets. Streaming services have also experienced significant growth in recent months, and with services like Netflix providing us with more international series than ever (plus foreign-language series becoming more mainstream), it seems fair to say that this will lead to new opportunities for subtitlers. Video game translation and localisation is another promising avenue of activity.
At the same time, many of the social and economic changes of the last year have posed new challenges for translators. With increasing numbers of people now looking for work-from-home opportunities, it seems fair to expect that competition for freelance work of any variety will be tougher. In addition to this, many businesses are now operating under restrictions or working to a reduced capacity, and this decrease in commercial activity is likely to have a knock-on effect on other industries, including translation, as well as impacting on the wider economy. Finally, there is the ever-present spectre of machine translation hovering over our industry. Artificial intelligence is disrupting virtually every area of life, and translation is no exception to this rule. With technology redefining the role of humans in many industries, we have to consider that the overall character of the translation industry is likely to change, as will so many other aspects of life.
Translators tend to be creative and highly adaptable people who are good at seeing every angle of a situation. What’s your take on the challenges and opportunities that 2021 could bring?