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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Globalization

The translation industry started feeling the effects of globalization earlier and has been affected more profoundly than most other industries, because it's much easier to outsource the translation of a text than to start manufacturing operations in another country or even to import a product made abroad. Since translation buyers are constantly looking for the lowest-cost providers, globalization has benefited translators in low-cost-of-living countries, while it hurt those living in the First World. Obviously, not all language combinations are equally affected, since it's not easy to find a translator into Swedish in Sri Lanka or China.

What will be the long-term effect of globalization on the translation industry? Should translators in certain language combinations in the U.S. and Europe look for another career? Will rates level off as translators in developing countries find out they can earn more by charging higher rates? At what level will this leveling-off occur? Can higher productivity via technology compensate for lower rates?