The Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission (DGT) launched an interactive online tool for collecting and exchanging data on the European Union language profession and industry on 18 November 2010 in Brussels.
Companies, associations and individuals active in the language industry, and national statistics bodies, are now encouraged to add their input. This will turn the web platform into a valuable source of facts and figures about the language industry.
The web platform at http://ec.europa.eu/language-industry offers document search, addition of information and data submission via online questionnaire. It covers the following subsectors of the language industry:
• subtitling and dubbing
• software localisation and website globalisation
• language technology tools development
• multilingual conference organisation
• language teaching
• linguistic consultancy.
The database is managed by DGT, but most of the input will come from the industry itself.
The idea of creating the web platform grew out of a study on the size of the EU language industry, published by DGT in November 2009. The study’s main finding was that the language industry had shown resilience in the face of the financial crisis, and was likely to continue growing at a healthy rate of 10 % over the next five years. But the study also revealed an absence of EU-wide standard practice for statistical coverage of the language industry. As a result, the information available varies from one EU country to another and may also be difficult to track down.
A further conclusion was that for a field with such steady growth prospects, the language industry was far too invisible. Creating a common knowledge database and feeding it with quantitative and qualitative data will help the industry’s efforts to gain visibility and be perceived as an unified and independent economic sector.
The web platform launch event was also a good opportunity to network with other players in the industry and to review its current status and the challenges ahead.
Johann Amkreuz, President of BDÜ, the German federal association of interpreters and translators, gave an introduction to the German language industry market, estimated at some 750 million euros this year, with 12 to 15 % growth from 2009.
Kim Harris of text & form GmbH, a member of the GALA Board, saw massive volumes of data needing to be translated in real time due to the growth of Internet access. This also increases the need for content in local languages.
Nino Plateel, Dutch National Statistical Institute, welcomed the web platform as a new entry point for statistical data on the language industry. The planned update of the statistical classification would, he said, take some time, so voluntary collection of data would be a useful intermediate stage.