The United Kingdom is a truly multicultural and multilingual place. In fact, there are currently more than 300 different languages spoken in London schools alone! As you can imagine, giving such diverse population, naturally not everyone feels comfortable with speaking English, and so professional interpreting and translation services are often needed in order to accurately convert important documents and materials as well as help people with their day-to-day activities.
Furthermore, the true value of translation agencies can also be observed by their involvement within the corporate world. UK based businesses approach international markets and customers regularly.
Nowadays, as the coronavirus situation fortunately seems to be somewhat better managed around the world and as the ’Brexit’ dust is slowly settling down, both in the United Kingdom and EU, business owners look into the future with a lot more confidence than they had throughout last year. Many organisations, both large as well as from the SME sector, continue their plans of international expansion and so producing high quality translations and partnering with language providers is a key aspect within their internationalization strategy.
Giving the significance of translation services in both – our personal as well as professional lives, we decided to take a closer look at the language industry numbers. We looked into data, statistics as well as spoke to some of the translation industry leaders in order to better understand which particular language pairs are most commonly converted and what factors must a professional linguist bear in mind when translating documents.
Most translated languages
In the United Kingdom, the popularity of a language may be dependent on whether the translation is required for personal or business use. Personal use considers documents such as certificates, diplomas or other private records. Corporate documents may include marketing content, contracts (read more about them here) legal documents or even websites. In order to create a more comprehensive and relevant list, we looked at the numbers across both areas, and so the languages listed below are most frequently translated across the private as well as business sector.
French is the most frequently translated language in the UK. Personal as well as business materials are regularly translated from and into French and so majority of language providers covers this language. Both – close proximity as well as strong busines ties between France and the United Kingdom play an important part in popularity of French translations. Additionally, a number of French speaking countries around the world are nowadays some of the fastest growing economies, and so a growing number of corporate clients require translations when approaching these markets.
The popularity of translations from and into the German language are primarily due to the corporate clients. Germany is the strongest economy in the European Union, and so even after the Brexit business relations between UK & German organisations are fairly strong. Furthermore, as the number of professionals who migrate in order to work for companies based in Germany – and vice-versa, is relatively high, personal documents such as passports, certificates or even driving licenses also make up a fairly large proportion of the market.
Personal documents from or into Spanish are perhaps translated more frequently than any other language. Spain, as well as some Spanish speaking South American countries, have been the most popular tourist destinations for UK holiday makers for more than a decade, and so translating passports, marriage certificates, driving licenses or other such documents is continuously in high demand. In addition, the large numbers of Spanish speaking expats in the UK, from both – Spain as well as South America, means that the number of documents requiring a translation into English is also fairly high.
Chinese languages – both Cantonese and Mandarin are, without a shadow of a doubt, languages of the future. Today, UK based businesses and organisations better understand the importance and strength of Chinese corporations within the global marketplace, and so working or partnering with them often requires professional translation services, which take into account not only linguistic, but also socio-cultural aspects. Furthermore, with the growing numbers of Chinese immigrants in the UK from Hong-Kong, personal documents also strongly contribute to the demand of the Chinese translations.
Arabic is one of the most commonly spoken second languages in the United Kingdom and a primary language in some of the fastest growing world economies. The demand for Arabic translations has grown steadily over the recent years, and with the immense technology and infrastructure developments in Middle Eastern and African countries, these markets became very lucrative for UK based businesses. As a result, the demand for translating corporate and personal documents from or into this language has grown immensely over the last decade or so, making Arabic one of the most frequently translated languages in the UK.
Translation aspects linguists must remember
People often consider translation services as a fairly straightforward process, which consists of predominantly replacing words with their exact equivalents in the target language. In order to better understand the process as well as aspects professional linguists must bear in mind when converting documents, we have contacted one of the leading and fastest growing translation agencies in London, Translation Services UK, and asked them to share their expert insight into the translation industry, allowing our readers to learn in more detail about the aspects and factors, which truly make the translated documents fully suitable for the target audience and which can directly affect their reliability.
The agency was kind enough to get back to us promptly and said that “A professional translation service often involves much more than a simple word-for-word conversion. Although, in some cases, this approach works best, in majority of scenarios, especially for documents and materials intended for corporate use with consumers in mind, there are several other aspects outside of the linguistic scope which must be considered.” And added “Socio-cultural factors, such as customs, religion, history or even political situation all can have a direct impact on how your translated materials are welcomed within the target market. As a result, our agency works solely with native speakers, allowing us to provide translations fully suitable for the chosen audience.”
All in all – translation services are a complex procedure, that require a professional approach and the expertise of a translation agency or an officially registered linguist. This becomes especially evident when converting business or corporate documents. Languages such as French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic are some of the most frequently translated in the United Kingdom, nonetheless, there are a number of other languages, which are generally covered by translation agencies and so you should be able to find the right provider regardless of the language pairs you require.
It’s also important to take note of the fact that some providers are able to cover a wide range of documents, languages and services (written translations, oral interpreting etc.), whilst others specialise in a specific sector, language pairs or markets. For example, Africa Ready are experts in African language translations, while Legal-Translations Company works solely with clients from the legal sector. It’s important to choose a provider that will be able to translate your materials accurately, bearing in mind all of the aspects discussed above.
Websites such as ATC UK (Association of Translation Companies) or ITI (Institute of Translations and Interpreting) specialise in reviewing and linking language experts, registered linguists and professional translation companies with their potential clients, and so they can be a fantastic place to start if you find yourself in the need of translating and officially accrediting your documents.