The fascination with Europe doesn’t stop with its art, music, and food. European languages and the translation industry as a whole is one of the fascinating things Europe has always been perceptive and earnest about. Here is the Italian novelist, Umberto Eco, providing evidence stating: “Translation is the language of Europe.” The ancient continent is striving for a thriving present and future for its languages, challenging itself to maintain constant vigilance to contend with its rich history and civilization.
Between now and before, the translation industry in Europe has witnessed multiple golden ages, thousands of changes and improvements, and great transition in the type of fields it has been conquering. Especially, with the constant changes in economy, technology, and global market, the scope of Europe’s translation market has expanded, big time.
In this blogpost, we are dedicated to explore the status quo of the European languages and Europe’s translation market.
EU Countries and Economy Shaping Europe’s Translation Market
The economic and political union is made up of 28 member states and six others are recognized as candidates for membership including Turkey. Within the European Union, there are 24 official languages, more than 60 indigenous regional and minority languages, and many non-indigenous languages spoken by migrant communities.” For such linguistic diversity, the EU institutions promote multilingualism and language learning, and this accordingly encourages translation in numerous sectors across the continent. For instance, according to Wikipedia, important documents, such as regulations and other legislative texts, are translated into every official language.
Moreover, as the second largest economy in the world, the European Union market is vast enough to include thousands of industries and services. To support and embrace this overwhelming growth, Europe’s translation market is expanding as well. While Europe is being home to the world’s largest leading multilingual companies, Europe’s translation market is helping these companies adjust to the local and international requirements.
The result is the language industry – translation and interpretation, language teaching, language technologies, etc. – is among the fastest growing areas of the economy.
Key Insights into Europe’s Translation Market and LSPs
A study by The Language Technology Centre LTD in 2009 suggested “an estimated value of the language industry within the European Member States of 8.4 billion € for 2008.” maintaining a growth rate resulting in an approximate value of 16.5 billion € in 2015. Evidence establishing these facts are represented in the constant increase in the number of translation companies in Europe, while more individuals and companies are working on taking part in Europe’s translation market with “an estimated 1500 translation companies” in 2005 only.
It’s only reasonable to expect that this estimation is doubled and even quadrupled by now, and here’s the proof, with numbers. The main localization hubs in Europe are located in UK, Ireland, and Germany. In UK alone, there are over 3,638 translation agencies registered in Proz located there. However, UK doesn’t solely hold all the cards of the game, since France, Italy, Spain, and Hungary are dominant with huge number of companies. On the other hand, Poland and Czech seem to be the most preferable countries inside the European Union for reliable LSPs. Poland alone has more than 1658 translation companies (the majority of them are LSPs but there are MLVs also), while Czech Republic comes second with 503 companies. It is worth mentioning that this number also includes offices for companies that are not headquartered in either country. Greece also has a huge number of LSPs (more than 525 companies), but due to its poor financial reputation, it’s not recommended to do business with.
There are other countries that have translation companies and LSPs, but they don’t have the same potentials and capabilities like the aforementioned countries. Bosnia, for instance, isn’t a viable country to headquarter a translation company, that’s to say, out of the total number of its translation companies (86), only 25 are headquartered there. Most of these companies are quite small or unknown LSPs with poor online existence and limited number of employees and the rest reflects a number of offices belonging to other companies that support Balkan languages. The same goes for Austria; it has 312 companies related to MLVs, offices for international MLVs, and other LSPs. Surprisingly, nevertheless, some reliable companies are keen on establishing offices there, in an attempt to use it to prove their capabilities to provide Northwestern European languages.
On a different note, there are some countries that aren’t in the EU, but they are still European and play a pivotal part in shaping Europe’s translation market. These countries include: Russia with 1,752 translation companies, Turkey with 1,482 companies, Romania with 996 companies, Ukraine with 864 companies, Croatia with 281 companies, and Serbia with 246 companies.
Studying these facts and numbers, we can come up with a general rule of thumb across almost all LSPs in Europe: they tend to support some of CEE languages even if they fall behind their regional language scope. Some other LSPs claim to have more offices in different European countries as a justification to prove they can support that kind of languages. Contrarily, other LSPs tend to stick to specific regional groups of languages bounded to their physical existence in Europe.
Most In-Demand European Languages
Speaking of the language industry in Europe would definitely bring up the most controversial discussion on the most in-demand European languages. Given the too many speculations and conclusions around this, we’ve decided to settle things.
CEE languages refer to the languages of a group of countries in Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and Northern Europe. These languages include German, French, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, and Slovene. Today, they are the most demanded and trending languages in Europe. Not only that, but in fact, it is predicted that five years from now, Eastern Europe countries will have an overwhelming share of the whole translation market. The reason behind this industry growth is that “These countries boast a highly qualified and well-educated workforce of people who are both ambitious and fluent in foreign languages”, which eventually leads to soaring development in Europe’s translation market to become a hardly ever affected industry with the unsteady global economy.
The unique continent has always manifested a specific interest in languages and translation, and with more countries gaining access to the EU, and because people prefer communicating in their native tongue, the translation market is blooming. For that, European countries are always seeking to carry out the best practices in choosing their headquarters and office locations around the continent as well as expanding their language scopes- specifically focusing on the CEE languages based on the market needs and the industry trends.
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