Construction Translation Overview for 2015

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Over recent years, new technology and changes within the construction industry have led to changes in the way construction and engineering documents are translated. Over the coming years, this trend is expected to continue. This document aims to look at some of these changes and review their implications.

1. Construction translation overview

1.1 Increased demand

As the world continues to flatten, the trend for businesses to want to interact across national boundaries is continuing to accelerate. More international business communication means more translation and interpreting work is required. The recent financial crisis impacted on this trend to a degree, but the subsequent growth, especially from the BRIC and emerging nations has now made up for this. Associations such as the Royal Institute of British Architects are now strongly encouraging members to look overseas for growth opportunities.

Companies and individuals are continuing to create more documents than ever before. Nations in emerging countries, which used to rely on verbal agreements, are moving towards “getting everything down on paper”, and so the number of documents being written (in any language) is continuing to increase. It has been estimated that the next two years will see more documents created than the last 20 years combined, and this growth will continue into the foreseeable future.

These two factors combined mean that construction translation and interpretation are expected to become more and more even more commonplace over the coming years, the projected rates of this development are usually around 1-3 % per year.

1.2 Increased internationalisation

Even those companies which do not actively target exports or foreign markets are increasingly getting involved in internationalisation activities of various kinds. In order to remain competitive, companies are more and more active in seeking suppliers and partners in other parts of the world. This means they are under pressure to ensure their products or services will work for whoever uses them, even if they are outside the intended geographical market.


Construction Translation Internationalisation


2. Non-technical business documents

2.1 Increased demand

As mentioned previously, the number of documents created is increasing at a huge rate, and the amount of documents which require translation is growing at a similarly fast rate. The net result of this is increased demand in the coming years. This demand is going to be uneven, with certain nations having significant and strong demand and others remaining flat. The effect of the current sanctions on Russia for example are causing a huge slowdown in the translation market for Russian to English, and there is no easy solution for this in sight. Other languages are already oversubscribed with too many translators, and will need to see significant growth before demand catches up with supply.

2.2 Translation service segmentation

With these increases, the understanding that different audiences require different translations is also improving. Whereas previously translation was thought to be an “all-in-one” solution, covering technology, legal documents, tag lines, contracts, patents and so on, it is now becoming increasingly understood that translating tag lines for example is a very different task to translating a contract. The skills required by the translator vary hugely for the different tasks. In the past few years, terms such as “transcreation” have become popular, and we expect to see more segmentation and the adoption of more similar terms in the future.

We have always believed that technical documents require technical translators, who ideally should have different training and experience to general translators. We think this will be a great opportunity for suitably qualified and experienced translators to stand out. A key task in the coming years will be educating clients as to what kind of translations or services are available.

3. Technical documents

Construction Translation Technical Changes

Construction Translation Technical Changes

3.1   Movement onto computer based solutions

The trend for technical documents to be produced on computer software is continuing, even in developing nations. It is now very unusual to find construction companies who do not use any computer modelling at all for their technical work.

This means that translators involved in construction translation will need to be able to work with a wide variety of technical formats. Common CAD programs include: AutoCAD, Autodesk, Alias, Autodesk, Revit, Bricscad, CATIA, PTC, Creo, Elements/Pro, DraftSight, FastCAD, MEDUSA, MicroStation, progeCAD, Rhinoceros 3D, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, T-FLEX CAD, TurboCAD, and Vectorworks. There are also numerous architecture and structural engineering packages as well as in-house software programs, these include: ArchiCAD, Chief Architect, Punch Home Design Studio, and Autodesk 3D Software.

It will be necessary for translation agencies to ensure that their translators can work directly in those formats where necessary. We will also need to push our software vendors to ensure that out translation software is compatible with the widest possible range of formats. New programs are being developed all the time, and agencies need to ensure they are aware of these changes.

3.2   Cloud based solutions

Hand-in-hand with the trend for computer based documents is the development towards cloud solutions, and SAAS programs. This presents issues to translation agencies mainly in terms of document exchange. With cloud technology, it may become possible for translators to work directly in the servers of certain clients, preventing the need to email documents backwards and forwards. As an intermediate step, it is increasingly common for documents to be delivered via shared file services such as Dropbox.

3.3   Verification against standards functionality becoming more common

More and more software programs are offering “verification against standards” functionality. With the press of a button, drawings can be compared and verified against the appropriate standards.

This presents two significant issues for construction translators. Firstly, we need to ensure that translators are aware of the role and function of standards. Translators who can consider the language of the relevant standards when translating will produce translated documents which can be easily checked against those standards, whether by automated software or manually. Secondly, translators need to be aware of the importance of consistent terminology and using language which can be verified by computers where required.

3.4   Foreign English

More and more foreign engineers and designers are writing in English. This English can best be described as “international English”. This means more and more opportunities are available for reviewers, working in English who can check that the documents are suitable for the intended audience. While this is not strictly speaking a “construction translation” task, reviewing the work of non-native English speakers is expected to remain an import growth area for language service providers.

4. Conclusions

Broadly speaking the changes which are already taking place in the construction translation sector are expected to continue through 2015. There are primarily, increased demand, increased segmentation, more technology adoption and increased non-native English document creation. As leading providers of construction translations, Constructive Translations hope and believe that next year will be a good year for the construction translation industry.