Make each passionate heart pulse with you
—— Annual summary of China’s translation market in 2007
Abstract: The author sums up the development of translation market in the world in 2007 from domestic and overseas aspects and hopes to assist people in China’s translation industry in acquiring information of updated development trend and direction in translation industry both in China and abroad, help translation enterprises in China find out a way suitable for China’s translation industry development and provide constructive suggestions and thoughts with the help of his intentional interviews with and online surveys of 26 translation institutions in China and the strategically cooperative partners in foreign countries, and also his study and conclusion of certain stage in translation industry both in China and abroad,
Key words: China’s translation market; overseas translation market; local translation company in China; look into the future and scan widely the world
Domestic translation market accelerates its scale increase in 2007 and competition in this field becomes more and more drastic. It is an obvious trend that local translation companies in China who are speeding up their steps in professionalized work division based upon subjects and languages have converted from extensive form of production to intensive type of operation.
The year of 2007 is a year of harvest and also a special year to most translation companies. According to field investigation and research of 26 China’s translation companies in combination with operation situation of China Microtrans, I will sump up the year of 2007 as the following: generally speaking, the competition in translation market becomes more and more drastic; It is an obvious trend that local translation companies have converted from extensive form of production to intensive type of development; competition leads to severe market division in China and the professionalized work division based upon subjects and languages is becoming clearer. The author is highly appreciated for your understanding of his explanation of the above-mentioned conclusion in three sentences: according to the investigation, companies with core competitiveness express more and more their vigorous energies. About 30% of companies in investigation feel that they are nearly unable to accomplish all their jobs owing to the increasing orders and it is commonly agreed among them that translation market scale in China in 2007 is obviously extended with easy operations. At the same time, some translation companies who are uncompetitive due to their shortage of innovation in management, quality and market merely confined to their traditional ways of operation. Translation companies in this category keep complaining the phenomenon of losing major clients and find it hard to run translation companies in 2007 and their profits keep descending obviously. The feedback investigation result indicates that the translation companies in this category account for 50%. You may pay attention to this point, namely, 50% translation companies find it hard to run translation companies, their business is not as ideal as they imagined and they keep losing their major clients. Finally, those little-scaled companies with outdated ideas, management, quality and market keep complaining that their business keeps descending with poor business volume and hardship in operation. Translation companies in this category cover 10% among the total. Another 10% transnational large companies feel doubtful about business investigation and they are unwilling to tell more business related details.
According to the above-mentioned investigation result, we will draw the following conclusion: translation companies in China who can ensure satisfactory translation quality and satisfy market requirements will become larger and larger in scale and more and more powerful in strength, the number of which covers 30%. It is very obvious that the concentration ration in this industry is more and more strengthened. At the same time, we should also pay attention to up to 50% companies, some of which are companies with long history who keep complaining the severe phenomenon of losing major clients. Translation business keeps shrinking in another 10% companies with hard times, which is also evidence of severe market division. It is a surprising discovery for us during the investigation that professionalized work division among translation companies becomes more and more obvious. From the aspect of profession, some companies only deal with the medical translation, some handle only with translation related to laws and some deal only with software. All of them unanimously advocate responding to the call of 17th national congress of the communist party of China, that is, to develop in a good and rapid way, to do it well before extend the scale, to place company’s brand operation and characteristic operation in first place instead of the pursuit of pure economic benefits and to accomplish differentiated market share and competitive strength. Such a result objectively leads to the further perfection in professionalized work division, which is greatly favorable for maturity and development of translation market. From the aspect of language category, some companies concentrate on their advantageous language or deal with few languages. They outsource the translation jobs of other languages to relevant advantageous enterprises and they deal only with their strong points. What they pursue is the best instead of all languages. Many translation companies confess it is very childish for them to advocate being able to deal with all languages and hoped to undertake all translation jobs in the past. Being able to deal with all languages indicates being able to do nothing. Less and less companies claim that they can deal with all translation jobs nowadays. The situation in Microtrans is as the following: Microtrans deals only with small languages. Business of Northern European languages keeps increasing rapidly in 2007 and jobs with high demand and difficult technique keep jumping. It is mentionable that Russian language business in Microtrans in 2007 develops in geometric growth, which becomes light spot of translation work in Microtrans in 2007. Our job objective is accomplished 3 months ahead of time, which contributes a lot to Russian language business. The author compares and studies overseas and domestic translation markets and boldly predicts that it will take less than 20 years for China’s local translation companies to accomplish the reform in professionalized work division and intensive form of development. Some insiders believe that China’s translation market will become relatively mature with reasonable distribution of top, middle and low levels and scientific profession division within 10 years, which is also approved by the author to some extent.
Overseas translation market grows slowly in 2007. Northern American market withers but European market especially Northern European translation market keeps enlarging. Comparatively speaking, China’s translation market is greatly potential in its growth.
Practice and investigation in 2007 make the author surprisingly find that it is not exaggerated to describe translation work load and market profits in many translation companies in China in 2007 with the adjective words such as “fruitful, phenomenal progress” but the growth of global translation market is slow. We contact Microtrans’ strategically cooperative partners in North America, Southeast Asia, North Europe and Middle Asia, etc through MSN, SKYPE, etc and inform them that the pure profit of Microtrans is estimated to increase 30% and other translation companies even have their pure profits increased at 50%, which greatly surprises them. Some companies even tell the author to be prepared to change job if the market keeps withering in the next year. The amount of people who quoted prices obviously increases whenever the author released project information on global websites in translation practices in 2007 and the prices quoted by translators from North America are apparently lower than those quoted the previous year, which indicates the enlarging and uprising of scales in the newly-arising translation market in Asia and it is very obvious that the increase in translation market in most overseas areas is comparatively slow. Surplus overseas labors due to the fact that translation talent supply exceeds demand are released in newly-arising markets in areas such as Asia, etc. Let’s make it specific according to situation in Microtrans: one of the hottest languages in 2007 is Portuguese especially the Portuguese business in Brazil, which grows rapidly. The Russian language business increases rapidly, translation jobs in Italian, French and Spanish obviously grow but the translation business from North America keeps descending.
Transnational translation companies’ leading position in their occupation of top level of China’s market in 2007 remains unchanged. China’s local translation companies that just take shapes and transnational translation companies share fifty-fifty the clients in the middle level. The advantage of China’s local translation companies in price makes their competitiveness gradually increase more and more obviously. China’s little-scaled translation companies still occupy the low level of market.
Transnational translation companies often avoided the topic of their expansion and market share in China whenever we communicate with them. We find out through their outsourcing companies in China that they basically monopolize translation business of Top 500 in China. Transnational translation companies have high demand for translation quality, technique and confidentiality, which makes them dare not to take risks in transferring their translation business to China’s local translation companies. One more point is that most transnational translation companies have bias on China’s local translation companies though they have developed largely in the past years, which can hardly be changed in short period. Great changes have taken places in middle level market in China. Clients in middle level will take translation costs into consideration. Most excellent China’s local translation companies have gradually become those with certain competitive forces and scales through years of accumulation in the process of reform by learning technique, management and innovation from transnational companies. Their advantage in price is very obvious in comparison with that of transnational translation companies though they are not in equal level and many local translation companies often attract and take away major clients of some transnational translation companies. Clients in low level have lower level of demand for translation and the technical contents are comparatively lower and renowned translation companies distain contesting market in this category, which makes China’s local little-scaled translation companies firmly master China’s translation market in low level. Besides, most translation companies in China still remain little in scale, weak in competitiveness and lagged in technique, etc, which remains unchanged.
Quality of China’s local translation companies is remarkably improved in 2007 and their translation techniques are becoming mature. The entire standard of local translation companies is in the process of conversion from “quantitative change” to “qualitative change”.
Competitive capability, ability of adapting to market, management level and technical level of local translation companies have been obviously improved through 30 years’ development and accumulation after reform and opening-up. We find out with delight and surprise that about 20% of local translation companies are in the process of conversion from quantitative change to qualitative change, many of them have technical level nearly up to that in translational translation companies and their translation techniques are very close to those in translation tycoons in the world but their management level remains to be improved such as problems in marketing sales and quality control flow, etc. Currently, they can be nothing but workshops for international translation tycoons, and they can only become their translation factories depending on the tycoons. A manager working in a transnational translation company indicates that contribution rate of local translation companies for transnational translation companies reaches 80% to 90% but profits of local translation are only at 20% to 30%. The author firmly believes that it is not long in the predictable future that excellent local translation companies with certain scales, competitiveness and ambitions will undoubtedly meet as equals with transnational translation companies in the contest of attracting clients in top level and share equal market share.
Look into the future and scan widely the world. Opportunities are larger than challenges and advantages are bigger than disadvantages for China’s local translation companies who will cover a very important place in global translation stage and also play a more and more important role in global translation market.
As Beijing 2008 Olympic Games approaches, it is commonly believed that market value of China’s translation market reaches RMB 20 billion Yuan. As a piece of ancient and magic land, China will become one of the newly-arising markets with the rapidest net growth in global translation market. The year of 2008 is a milestone for both China and her translation market. With the volume increase in China’s translation market and optimization and integration of resources in domestic translation companies, great changes will undoubtedly take place in some local translation companies who possess certain competitiveness after the baptism of blood and fire, experiences and practices in the large translation market in China. Long term of observation and thinking make the author believe that the advantages of transnational translation companies as century-old shops in capital, brand and talent are not insurmountable. It’s the China’s local translation companies that know best China. The author firmly believes that worldwide translation tycoons like SDL and Lionbridge, etc will appear in China through the competition and learning among China’s local translation companies and the competition and cooperation with transnational translation companies. The day when China’s translation occupies a place in top level of translation market will come soon. People in charge in top level of China’s translation market are Chinese because it’s the Chinese that know best the Chinese. The top level of translation market in China is not unbreakable from this aspect and it will not be the transnational translation companies that dominate the top level of translation market for ever. Besides, I firmly believe that excellent representatives in China’s translation field will not only set foots in China but also extend their business all over the world. They will dance with all other overseas translation companies in the “global village” and become one of the important players, which will undoubtedly come soon.
In retrospect to China’s translation history, we can never forget the Glorious age of Tang Dynasty, that is, the ancient capital Chang’an which makes us lost in a reverie 1600 years ago when one great translator Kumarajiva established in the thatched cottage in Xi’an the first national translation field in China’s history, which is also the first translation house established by a nation. A monk named Xuan Zang also opened the translation field in Wide Goose Tower 200 years later in the same place, which is regarded as having the largest scale in global translation history in record. According to the historical record, about 5000 people translate Buddha classics simultaneously and as to its splendid scene, there is no any other country and area that can break this record. As it is said that it takes 20 rooms to totally contain all translation scripts for reservation and compiling owing to numerous translated works, and there is no any other country and area that can exceed this scale. According to researches, the professionalized work division and standardized translation flow in that era in China’s history have reached a rather high level. The study on translation texts indicates that the problem of unifying millions of terms has been solved in a good way and nobody can discover how they achieved this till now. Some scholars even believe that its translation level is no less than that in E time 2000 years later. We can’t help being moved and proud of it as Yan-Huang’s offspring?!
It is lucky for both you and me to be born in this great nation that has experienced trials and tribulations, which is in the great era of change and stepping into the period of great renaissance. As Liu Che, Emperor Hanwu, says in TV play Emperor Hanwu, when he invites fortune-telling chancellors to observe astronomical phenomena one night before decisive battle with Hun to recapture Hosi Corridor, namely, “I believe heaven will respond to the popular sentiment and what I do is to enforce justice on behalf of heaven though you think that it will take 500 years for us to watch this fortunate sign of China’s millennium that five starts, that is, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn are in one line”. Renaissance and uprising of Great China will not merely depend upon the efforts made by people in translation field and heaven will respond to the uprising of Great China as long as the passionate hearts of people like me in translation field and each Chinese pulse together!