Whether it is a developed country or an underdeveloped country, the entire world is badly hit by COVID-19. It is such a lethal pandemic that can damage a lung of a person in no time and result in death. To control the increasing death rate in the world, the governments of different countries announced lockdowns. People remained confined to their homes.
The global companies asked their employees to work from home. Similarly, schools and universities got closed, and they started educating students through online classes. In short, this pandemic has altogether changed the lifestyle that we had before the pandemic. Social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks have become a norm of life. COVID-19 has affected every field of life, and the translation world is no exception to it. The working class and students have adopted ways of how to work and study remotely to mitigate some challenges of the pandemic.
How Pandemic Has Affected Translators
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. This pandemic has affected every field of life. Do you want to know how it has affected the translation industry? A survey was conducted by a French professional association, SFT, at the start of the pandemic. According to the survey results, 57% of translators believed that this pandemic would have a negative impact on their work. Out of 57%, 48% of people want to join a part-time job. 23% of translators want themselves to be trained again. Moreover, 15% of translators want to take a break from their work, while 7% want to leave the job of translator permanently. These statistics are enough to show how badly the translation industry is impacted by this pandemic. This pandemic has made the overall economic situation of the world very unpredictable.
Many companies laid off their employees to come out of the loss that occurred to them because of the pandemic. This situation has created uncertainty in the market and many people are afraid of losing their jobs or of changing their profession. The best way to face unprecedented times is to adapt to digital technology. The result of this survey is from a small group of French translators. Therefore, to get a more valid result, you must go for a large-scale survey so that you can validate or contradict these findings.
Another research was conducted by the CSA research institute on freelance translators. They received responses from 1,174 translators from around 97 countries. This came up with very devastating results. Some of the main challenges are a declining workload, few job opportunities, and a decrease in income. Additionally, 65% of the people who participated in the survey are of the view that COVID-19 has changed the market dynamics for a time being. 25% are of the view that they have to change the market dynamics for good. Moreover, 10% are of the view that the market has not changed at all. The further findings of the survey suggest that demand for translation services is at a peak in some fields, and it is decreased in other fields.
Translators Working Remotely
Although translators already work remotely. They keep in contact with companies and agencies from their home. So COVID-19 when making everyone work from home did not affect the translators because they already know how to work remotely.
Old Generation is not Comfortable with Technology
Everyone cannot use digital technology with ease. Especially, the old generation finds great difficulty in using digital platforms like Zoom. So for this reason, they are taking the assistance of IT training so that they can work efficiently and avoid any barriers in their work. Unlike other businesses, the work of translators is also affected by the pandemic, and they are afraid of a decline in their income. They are left with only health-related documents for translation.
Pandemic Has also Affected Interpreters
Just like translators, interpreters are also affected by COVID-19. This is because the pandemic resulted in the shutdown of important events, conventions, and conferences. Therefore, the interpreters are badly affected and left with very little income. The worst part is that all the sectors in which they can work like tourism and business are also closed. In this situation, the interpreters can come up with new working styles according to the demand of the markets. This resulted in the emergence of remote interpreting. The people are requesting interpretation in a short span, like an hour before.
Remote interpretation faces many challenges like cutting microphones and poor internet connection. Moreover, the availability of a quiet and soundproofed room and the use of proper equipment is very important. Therefore, many interpreters use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Webex for interpreting work. These tools are very handy to use. Still, the use of these interpreting platforms is not without problems because they interpret services while disturbing the other participants.
Do you know that Microsoft Teams, Webex, and Zoom only focus on oral communication and seem friendly? But for an interpreter, the audio noise and decrease in their income do not make it a viable option. To get back to the normal way of life, many LSPs are encouraging their employees to work from home and asking them to use videoconferencing and online interpretation. They are also following a strict travel policy because due to COVID-19, many events will take place using virtual and hybrid scenarios.
COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Language
Before the spread of the pandemic, the media never thought of using headlines that use medical terminologies like epidemiology and virology. We as a layman also did not hear such terms that were only used in laboratories and medical centers. The research conducted by dictionary.com stated that the most searched words in the U.S between March and May 2020 are ventilator, quarantining, SARS, hydroxy and asymptomatic. Some other terms that become common in public conversation are viral shedding, community spread, PPE, and N95. People start using technical terms so much in their conversation that the International Association of translators of medicine and related sciences with the coordination of Cosnautas comes up with the COVID-19 English-Spanish glossary that contains 5000 terms related to the pandemic.
Role of Medical Translation
To combat COVID-19, many laboratories, and researchers from countries around the world worked tirelessly to find its cure. This resulted in shutting down existing clinical trials and launching new clinical trials. These clinical trials include testing and identifying new effective drugs so that they can cure this lethal disease. These trials are conducted in different languages, so the requirement to translate them arises. As the virus was spreading very fast, translators must provide the translation in a fast turnaround time so that effective treatment can be provided to the masses. In that era, sharing and collecting scientific information was a need of time.
A pool of information is gathered by public and private organizations to make a collective effort to get insights into this virus, to know how the virus works, and identify new treatments such as a vaccine. During that time, many companies kept their operations normal by keeping their employees safe. For this, they came up with internal SOPS and made contingency plans, including protocols. To deal with the global workforce, they need to translate the notifications and documents related to work-from-home policies and how to follow COVID-19 protocols.
The use of sanitizers and protective equipment is also at its peak during the pandemic. This resulted in the translation of commercial purchases and import agreements. Moreover, the technical translation of how to use health care equipment and products. No doubt, it is essential to get precise and accurate translations in normal circumstances. But due to uncertainty, it is more important to provide an affluent translation service to medical and pharmacological fields and health professionals.
In this way, they can provide information to the public about symptoms and protective measures against this disease. Medical translation has played an important part here and progressed more quickly in 2020 and 2021 so the need for medical translation rises. The medical translation helped in sharing information regarding COVID-19. It played a role of a bridge between medical agencies and the public. Taking the assistance of medical translators that are experts in the medical field helped in combating the virus.
COVID-19 Has Become a Great Challenge to Translation Companies
Do you know that Google Translate can only translate 100 languages? Here the question arises. What about the people that speak other languages and getting vulnerable to the disease? We have seen many English-speaking people browsing the internet. They must come across many pubic-related messages regarding COVID-19, from hand washing to social distancing. Although English is a universal language, we cannot ignore other languages. We cannot provide information only in English about the Pandemic. For this, we must translate it into multiple languages according to cultural and regional intricacies to save humanity from this lethal disease.
Dire Need for Translation Services
Every industry is impacted by this pandemic. The translation industry is playing an important role in helping the public in these unprecedented times. The entire world is dealing with the crises altogether with the help of the medical and translation industry. Do you know that COVID-19 information is translated into more than 500 languages, so that information can be disseminated in multiple languages? This translation includes fact sheets from the World Health Organization WHO and contains 400 videos that are translated into 150 languages. This has increased the demand for human translators that can provide precise and accurate translation services than machine translations. During these challenging times, people are in dire need of accurate translations in the language that they understand. This is because they want to know what the situation of the pandemic is. Thus, human translators played a pivotal role in communicating important information to the masses.
A Shift in Translation Needs
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, one of the biggest changes the translation industries have gone through is a shift in translation needs. For example, the tourism and hospitality industry suffered a lot because of lockdowns, so they don’t require translation services. Thus, it resulted in the demand for other types of translation.
- Medical Translation:
The most important translation required during a pandemic is medical translation. Lots of research is being done on the pandemic so the demand for medical articles, publications, and protocols to follow in the pandemic in the language that customers understand is at its peak. Here, medical translation services help you to understand the information.
- Marketing and E-commerce Translation:
The people are confined to their homes because of the lockdown. Therefore, many companies decided to shift their business from brick-and-mortar stores to an online one. Thus, to translate the companies, websites, and their marketing material, translation services are required.
- Document Translation:
The translation of documents into multiple languages is very important. At present, there is a high demand for medical document translation from the announcements from WHO, advisors and government bulletins, and different contracts and business agreements.
Schools and universities are closed, so many schools and universities take the assistance of e-learning. So the demand for translation services has increased in this field.
Future of the Translation Industry
Apart from the medical field, the translation industry is at the forefront to help the masses combat this pandemic. They are making some alterations so that they keep on working efficiently in these times.
- Unlike many global companies, translation companies will enhance the use of virtual meetings with clients, vendors, and employees.
- Many translation companies will keep working remotely.
- They will not travel to attend conferences and will not visit clients.
- The translation companies will adjust their marketing and sales strategies according to the current market situation.
- They will keep their focus on large remote multilingual events.
Now the world is passing through a post-pandemic phase. Many developed countries have made vaccines, and they are selling these vaccines to developing countries to save the life of humanity. To understand how the vaccine will work and how to use it, many countries are taking assistance from medical translation services. In short, Covid-19 has impacted the translation world, but it played an important role in educating and combating the pandemic.