Despite the many advances in communications made during the past 20 years, mankind still lives in the shadow of the biblical Tower of Babel. The overwhelming number of different languages and cultures in the world can prevent understanding and hinder cooperation, even as national economies become more and more interdependent.
This increasing interdependence of the world's economies is one factor behind the tremendous growth of translation services, says Walter Bacak Jr., executive director of the American Translators Association (ATA). "The pressure on U.S. businesses to grow has driven them overseas to new markets," Bacak says. "At first, they were trying to market using American knowledge, but they've discovered that to be successful, you need to market in the local customs and languages."
Worldwide expansion of the computer industry, and particularly the Internet, has also contributed to the growing demand for translation services. As people around the world gain access to the Net, the need for multilingual documentation, manuals and Web sites will increase dramatically. According to market research firm Allied Business Intelligence Inc. in Oyster Bay, New York, the worldwide market for translation services will reach $10.4 billion by year-end and is projected to grow to $17.2 billion by 2003. That's language any entrepreneur looking for a promising opportunity can understand.
While there are no statistics available on the number of translation services based in the United States, for the first time, the Census Bureau plans to publish the number of translation services in the 2000 Census.