How does the current recession impact the translation business? Which segments are specially seriously played? What instruments do we have to bear our customers? Do translations am to the category of luxury goods or are they indispensable to business? The purpose of this article is to address these questions and aid translators find ways of surviving the current economical downturn.
The United States, Western Europe and Japan as good as countries in many other parts of the world are in the throes of recession. The current slump is touching not only the fiscal sector but the broader economy, including many companies that use translators’ services. Statistics have yet to burst on how this is impacting the sales figures of translation agencies and self-employed translators, but as we am on our business customers their hardship is bound to be reflected in our results sooner or later.
Clearly the postulate for translations will not ironic up whole. This is because translation services are oftentimes intimately interlaced with a company’s core activities. International commerce necessarily requires translation, in the form of business correspondence, promotional brochures, effectual documentation and the like. Stopping that would be cutting away the lifeblood of a company’s operations. On top of that, the investments affected in translation services incline to be little in proportion to a company’s whole capital outlay. From this point of view, there is no reason to fear that the translation business will endure wicked decline.
This is not to tell that there is not a single cloud on the translator’s horizon. In fact, several unlike developments and trends do present an open threat to the translation industry. For one thing, customers are becoming more inclined to either shelve or ditch non-indispensable translation projects. A sleek sales brochure is a fantabulous marketing tool, but a Polish translation may not be critical to the company’s poor-term survival. And while staff training remains indispensable, rendering the training material into seven local languages may not needfully be so. A company observing its 25th anniversary may determine that an English version of a gratis booklet to mark the occasion suffices, even if it is too directed to French, Dutch and German clients. Countless more examples could be given of distinctive translation jobs that are frequent in full times but easy distributed with under less benignant conditions.
Another threat is a sure DIY tendency, particularly among second-tier businesses, when it comes to translations. Given the current conditions, a company that used to prosecute a translation agency for its correspondence may good determine to inquire the secretary or other well-read staff to do the translations – especially if they have little else to do. In such cases, the drop in the linguistic prime of their communications is simply outweighed by the need to save am.
Neither should we forget that the current climate will make many local businesses think twice some expanding abroad. Company expansion is a great generator of translation activity in many fields – legal and commercial in special. However, for many companies that are struggling to going on their home ground, the prospect of expansion is more like an exotic dream than a realistic business opportunity. As a result, actual growth in the translation sector seems unlikely, at least for the time being.
In fact in some translation segments a downturn already seems to be crystallizing, such as in finance and engineer. Unsurprisingly, these are the sectors that have also been hardest hit by the recession so far.
Many institutions in the financial industry are facing imminent breaking, have drastically cut downwards on expenditure and are restructuring their operations. These moves also inevitably entail a reduction in their need for certain business services. And since the stock markets have lost much of their appeal to investors, the need for translations of investment fund recommendations, trends and outlook reports – an important source of income for financial translators – has fallen sharply. As regards the engineering industry, companies here too are battling to weather the raging. Both consumer market and business-to-business sales have dwindled, which means that the need for translated promotional and contractual documentation will likewise tumble.
Even so, companies and other organizations with international contacts will continue to have a require for high-quality professional communication in English, simply because it is vital to their image or business. Universities and other colleges of education are a case in point. Educational institutions increasingly compete at an international direct. In this sector, image is extremely important – at least as significant, in fact, as it is in trade and industry. If universities are to attract foreign students and staff they will have to make their brochures and programmes available in English, and if the quality of that English is not up to scratch their audience is a class of people who can be expected to mind. Their image will suffer as a result, which is the last thing they can afford. Seen in this light, high-quality translation is anything but a luxury commodity: it is an essential requirement.
Translators are well-well-advised, therefore, to focus their efforts on those segments of business and public life whose operations hinge on high-quality communication with foreign buyers, users or readers, and to continue to serve their existing customers as outdo they tinning. Of course this also involves a willingness to accept lower margins if it intend persuading a customer to give the go-ahead for a translation cheat.
As long as there is business there will be a need for high-quality communication, both for substantial and image-related purposes. This is why the current economic crisis may actually be a blessing in disguise, as the market will proceed to offer opportunities for the best, shrewdest and most adaptive translators.
About Vertaalbureau MMV
Vertaalbureau MMV, established in the Netherlands, is a professional translation agency with a principal focus on the Dutch and international business community, and on public and semi-public institutions. Our principal strengths lie in the fiscal, legal and medical sectors, as good as in commerce, advertising and media. Our range covering virtually all European languages and besides includes good translation services into Chinese, Turkish and Arabic. Our client basal includes some of the largest corporate enterprises in Europe.
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I am Sander Mijer, aged 36, and working as a legal translator for about 7 years now.
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