Hello, world! So this is my new digs, where I’ll be talking a little bit about my métier, which, as you can see and feel through this lame and pretty noob design, relates to something called subtiling. Subtitles. Legendas, in good old Portuguese.
Yes, I’m Portuguese btw. And a very proud one, too. That’s the first catch of anyone interested in doing what I do for a living: your mother tongue is your kick-off. Don’t feel restrained by it. The market goes up and down but as long as you can properly speak, write and review your mother tongue you’re good to go! Then… you put more languages into the mix. Give it a good self teaching shake, if that’s your jam. Gotta read and learn about the biz. And, hopefully, everything will be just fine.
Because it’s all about content, and it has been like so for the past decade and a half. I mean, facebook can be Meta now, but it will always need content reviewers. That’s your USP, my dear subtitler: language is dynamic, it never stops evolving. Did you know stuff like LOL or ROTFL isn’t something out of the late 20th-early 21st century? Ancient messengers and scouts used to shorten their reports to masters and kings of the past. So… take a breath. You’ll find your space, somewhere, somehow.
So, here we are, after this cheesy intro, let’s get down to biz. I’ll be borrowing some stuff from other sources, gotta build up some cred and I’ve been professionally for not much than a year, so I gotta keep my cool and tone in this joint. Let us dive into subtitling trends for 2022.
#1 Machine-generated content is king
“Tech is evolving rapidly so it makes sense to take a quick look at what’s new in the world of MT. Along with devs continuing to refine MT suites so they can both deliver speed and accuracy (I still personally maintain a machine can’t get a joke, no matter the amount of TB you feed it:). MT may soon be paired with AI models to translate content that was — at least in part — originally generated by a machine. With so many platforms, sites and portals needing to meet the demands of readers around the world, MT is an accessible, affordable and adaptable solution for translating blog posts, listicles, social content, news updated and more. Little wonder, then, that the MT market is on track to be worth USD 230.67 million by 2026. Of course, it bears repeating that MT still isn’t close to replacing human translators (like I said before): in fact, as the tech continues to improve, translation professionals will be able to get more done in less time without cutting corners, so they’ll have more work available to them than ever before.
#2 Subtitles and dubbing, the keys to new worlds
According to Deadline, the most-watched show on Netflix in 2021 was the Korean phenomenon Squid Game, with 142 million viewers. And it wasn’t the only foreign-language show in the top 10: the French streaming smash Lupin came in at number three with 76 million, while Money Heist, a Spanish drama series, also made the cut at number seven with an audience of 65 million. These are three major examples that prove one thing: as the Internet and globalisation continue to make the world smaller, more content in foreign languages will need to be either dubbed or subtitled to ensure additional reach. From Netflix behemoths to instructional YouTube videos and from podcasts to massive open online courses, the market for one-inch words and lip-synced dialogue contains huge potential: Valuates Reports projects it will be worth USD 441.7 million by 2027.
And, as The Guardian points out, this is not something that can be handed off onto machine translation, as “subtitling is an essential art form” requiring nuance and the ability to work within the physical limitations of the screen. In other words: good news for translators seeking to specialise in an area that is challenging yet rewarding — and in some cases prestigious.
#3 Speech-to-text meets a need for speed
This entry was written using a keyboard. Future generations will likely look back at this input method as quaint and slow, just as we do when we spy a typewriter at a flea market. Voice recognition software has been around for a while now (in fact, the first system was designed back in 1952), but the technology has reached a level where transcribing a voice recording is both viable and affordable. As more companies become clued in to the fact that they can have their conferences, general meetings, presentations and interviews recorded and then immortalised in digital ink, it will be down to language service providers to step in and offer their expertise in this fledgling field — first by creating a script using speech recognition software and then manually checking the text and comparing it to the recording to ensure it is 100% correct.
The software isn’t perfect yet (just try putting on the captions on certain YouTube videos), but it is getting better all the time. And there are ways to make it easier for the technology to understand the words being uttered, too: from cutting out background noise to briefing participants not to speak over one another.
#4 Interaction from anywhere on the planet
One area of the language service industry that received a direct boost due to the pandemic is interpreting. What was once very much a face-to-face affair had to adapt quickly to restrictions on mobility, human contact and room capacity. The result: remote interpreting. While it may have found its start out of necessity, the ability to virtually attend events, meetings, conferences and so on all over the world can only be a good thing for interpreters and their employers, as it reduces transport and logistical concerns to a minimum and allows for flexibility and spontaneous sourcing of services.
As an article from the American Translators Association points out, all it takes to get set up is a good headset and microphone, a quiet location and preferably two separate workstations — one to stream the event and another for support materials and glossaries. And with the unprecedented growth in popularity of platforms such as Zoom (along with established remote interpreting software such as KUDO, Interprefy or Voiceboxer), the technology to get online is more available and affordable than ever.
#5 Individual communites, a universal understanding
Another language service that is becoming ever more important in our increasingly globalised — and increasingly unstable — world is community interpreting. The emphasis here is on ‘community’, as this type of interpreter serves as the mouthpiece for certain social groups in need of public and social services, but which lack the language skills to request and apply for these themselves.
This is especially important in matters pertaining to health care, education, housing and civil rights, not least because communicating the group’s needs will have a huge effect on their overall quality of life. As migration increases — whether due to the climate crisis, conflict or other reasons — governments, social bodies and NGOs will need professional community interpreters to assist them in order to reach a mutual understanding and a satisfactory outcome for all.
Ideally, these professionals should combine an in-depth knowledge of languages and public services with the compassion and drive to help secure aid and empowerment for immigrants, refugees and other persons who may (whether directly or indirectly) have been marginalised up to now. Plus, by dismantling language barriers, this can lead to more trust, better integration and stronger communities. Not bad for a day’s work.
The question on many lips remains: are we out of the woods? The global economy may not be — not yet anyway — but as the translation trends above show, the language services industry is going from strength to strength.
As with any rapidly changing situation, peace of mind comes from being able to rely on a partner that stays on top of developments, works with the latest technology and always maintains the human touch. I somehow hope some of this borrowed info can help you navigate the dynamic world of translation, editing and copywriting and get ahead even when times are challenging.
The future is here. Let’s welcome it together.”