We've put together this mega list of translation statistics for anyone who wants to look into global market demands and developments.
What can I gain from this article?
But wait, why exactly do I want to read a bunch of data about language, translation, and localization? For starters, you can:
- Learn and model the best practices in the translation industry.
- Discover new audiences and untapped markets to target.
- Know which area to focus on so you can grow your business.
Here's an overview of the types of statistics you can find in this article:
- General Language Statistics
- Global Market Statistics
- Localization Statistics
- Translation Industry Statistics
- Translator & Interpreter Statistics
- Translation Software Statistics
- Machine Translation Statistics
- Translation Memory Statistics
General Language Statistics
To capture the global markets, one must first know the languages they speak. As an appetizer to the rest of the statistics, here are some fun facts about our world languages.
- There are 7,151 languages being spoken today, but this number tend to fluctuate as new varieties are discovered or old ones become extinct. (Ethnologue)
- Approximately 40% of languages are endangered. 23 languages already account for over half of the world's population. (Ethnologue)
- Out of all the continents, Asia has the most indigenous languages at 32%, closely followed by Africa at 30%. (Ethnologue)
- The average person can speak two to four languages in their lifetime. (EarthWeb)
- English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi are the top 3 most spoken languages in the world. (Ethnologue)
- English is the most spoken language in the world if you count both native and non-native speakers, while Mandarin Chinese has the most native speakers. (Ethnologue)
- The top 5 countries in the world with the best English speakers are the Netherlands, Singapore, Austria, Norway, and Denmark. (EF)
- The top 5 Asian countries with the highest English proficiency rates are Singapore (611), Philippines (562), Malaysia (547), South Korea (545), and Hong Kong (542). (EF Education First)
- The most widely used language on the internet is English, accounting for 25.3% of all internet content. The second is Chinese at 19.8%, and third is Spanish at 8%. (Speakt)
Global Market Statistics
Discover the behaviours of consumers beyond your home turf. Here are some statistics about the global markets that you can consider while creating your market expansion plans.
- A large-scale behavioral study in 2014 showed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy products from websites in their native language. (CSA Research)
- In one study, 67% of online shoppers said that they have bought from retailers outside of their home country. (Flow)
- In a 2022 study by Paypal, 57% of online shoppers say that they shop internationally. In fact, 2 out of 5 global shoppers have made a cross-border purchase in the past 3 months. (PayPal)
- 87% of B2C consumers said they would not buy from an English-only website. (CSA Research)
- Around 40% of internet users said they will never buy from websites that are not in their native language. (CSA Research)
- 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their native tongue, even though they are highly proficient in English. (CSA Research)
- China is reported to have over 980 million internet users, while the US has nearly 300 million internet users. (Statista)
- Translating your website for these 4 countries is estimated to give you access to 50% of worldwide sales potential: United States, China, Japan, and Germany. (Translated)
- Translating your website to the following languages enables you reach 80% of the online purchasing power globally: English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Italian. (Translated)
- Overall, global e-commerce sales are projected to reach US$7.4 trillion by 2025, and cross-border online shoppers will play a part in that growth. (PayPal)
Is your company considering the benefits of localizing your content? Or maybe you're trying to convince your boss or a business partner? Here is a collection of localization statistics you can share with them.
- Businesses that invested in translation were 1.5 times more likely to observe an increase in revenue. (Localize)
- Creating social media content that is visibly localized improved organic performance by 2500%. (Avensia)
- 84% of marketers said that content localization has helped grow their revenue. (Unbabel)
- In one study, most online shoppers agreed that it is important for the following pages to be in their home language: product descriptions (67%), product reviews (63%), checkout process (63%), and home page (62%). (Flow)
- 41% of marketers say that they localize their SEO for all of the markets they serve, while 40% say they localize their SEO for some markets they are in. (Unbabel)
- Top of the funnel and brand awareness content is the focus of many marketer's localization efforts. This includes paid ads (46% say they localize these), white papers (42%), email (41%), e-books, blogs, and landing pages/microsites (27%). (Unbabel)
- Fortune 500 companies were reported to be 2.04 times more likely to improve profits and 1.27 times more likely to generate more earnings per share when they invested in translation. (CSA Research)
- 86% of localized mobile advertisements performed better than their English counterparts, showing a 22% and 42% increase in conversion and click-through rates respectively. (Adotas)
- In one study, localized copy increased the click-through rates of ads by 22% among women and 87% among men. (Adparlor)
- 72% of brand engagement and 66% of content impressions come from localized pages. This happens even when the local page does not have as many followers as the national page. (SOCi)
- In a 2017 survery, 94% of marketers in the US and Europe planned to increase their budget for content localization in the following year, making it their top priority. (Slator)
- 88% of companies surveyed by Lokalise state that they are either already localizing their products or planning to do in he next 18 months. (Lokalise)
Translation Industry Statistics
The need to cross linguistic barriers for commercial purposes has created a surge in demand for translation services.
These numbers illustrate the key translation industry trends of recent years, as well as projections of growth. Spoiler alert: The translation industry has a promising future!
- The global language services market is valued at USD 60.68 billion in 2022. It is projected to reach USD 96.21 billion by the end of 2032, with a CAGR of 5.94%. (Fact.MR)
- Europe owns nearly half of the global language services market at 49%, followed by North America at 39.41%. (Statista)
- The size of the US translation services market increased steadily from 2015 to 2022 where it has now reached over USD 9 million. (Statista)
- In 2022, the language translation device market reached over USD 990 million. It is projected to register a CAGR of over 10% from 2022 to 2030. (Global Market Insights)
- The top 100 language companies have been increasing their market share year on year, but they still only represent approximately 15% of the entire market. This means that 85% of global language services are held by small to mid-sized companies. (European Commission)
- The translation service market size grew by 40% during COVID-19. (Market Research Future)
- The machine translation market alone was valued at USD 650 million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 3 billion by 2027. (Global Market Insights)
- In 2020, the demand for translation in healthcare increased by 49% due to the need to dispense COVID-19 healthcare information. (European Commission)
- On the other hand, there is a declining demand for translation in events, travel and leisure, and the automobile industries. (European Commission)
- For a larger view of changes in localization demand, check out the following graph. (CSA Research)
Translator & Interpreter Statistics
The translation industry boom is grounded in the work of translators, interpreters, and editors. Given the cross-cultural nature of translating for diverse markets, it's no surprise the industry has created many freelance opportunities for people around the world.
(A) Worldwide Stats
- There are approximately 640,000 translators worldwide. (TranslateMedia)
- 52% of language service professionals reported that their overall income has increased over the past two to three years. (ProZ)
- A 2020 survey involving 7,000 professional translators and interpreters found that 75% of respondents were self-employed (freelance). (ProZ)
- Collectively, these 7,000 professional translators and interpreters represented 178 countries and accounted for 155 language pairs. (ProZ)
- 66% of respondents in the same survey are females. (ProZ)
- The biggest challenges translators face include finding clients and dealing with expectations concerning the price and speed of deliverables. (ProZ)
- Another 2020 survey show that 93% of freelance translators have at least one degree, 39% of which are language degrees. (Inbox Translation)
- On average, female freelance translators charge 7% more per word than their male counterparts. On the other hand, the men charge 5% more on minimum fees. (Inbox Translation)
- On average, freelance translators who are members of professional associations charge 30% more than those who are not. (Inbox Translation)
- On average, freelance translators with 1 to 2 narrow specializations charge 29% more than those without specialist areas. (Inbox Translation)
- Translation agencies are 2.5 times more likely to ask translators to lower their rates than direct clients. 77% of freelance translators have received this request from agencies, while only 41% have heard the same from direct clients. (Inbox Translation)
- In one survey, 52% of respondents said that they have not acquired any formal translator or interpreter certifications in their native language. (Inbox Translation)
Interested in pursuing a career in translation and localization? Here's a guide on how to kickstart your translation career.
(B) US Stats
- There are around 56,920 translators and interpreters in the US. (Statista)
- 61.6% of all employed translators in the US are women. (Zippia)
- Freelance translators and interpreters are 55% more likely to work at private companies instead of public companies. (Zippia)
- The employment of translators and interpreters is expected to increase by 20% from 2019 to 2029, which far exceeds the average rate of 4% for all occupations. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- According to U.S. News Best Jobs, the salary range for translators and interpreters in 2019 was as follows:
- From 2021 to 2022, the median annual translator for translators and interpreters in the US is USD 49,100, or USD 23.61 per hour. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- The freelance translation workforce reached a high of 14,362 people in 2020, and 58.2% of them are women. (Zippia)
- The average age of the freelance translation workforce is 43 years. (Zippia)
Translation Software Statistics
Translation software may refer to a variety of online or desktop tools that translators, agencies, and businesses use to:
- translate faster with the help of machine translation and translation memories
- streamline and manage their translation projects
- collaborate with in-house teams or external parties
They are also known as CAT tools, which stand for computer-assisted translation tools. If you're in the market for one, check out this filter we've created where you can search through the top translation tools of 2022 based on your needs and priorities.
(A) Translator Use Statistics
- A survey shows that 88% of full-time professional translators use at least 1 CAT tool. Out of them, 76% used more than 1 CAT tool. (ProZ)
- Among those who use translation software, the 3 main areas of expertise were reportedly Tech/Engineering (34%), Business/Financial (15%), and Marketing (12%). (ProZ)
- Among those who don't use any translation software, the 3 main areas of expertise were reportedly Law/Patents (22%), Tech/Engineering (17%), and Art/Literary (14%). (ProZ)
- Translators estimate that using translation software can boost their productivity by at least 30%. (ProZ)
- In another study, 70% of the translators surveyed said that translation software is essential to their work, with the main benefit being improving productivity. (De Gruyter)
- The top 3 CAT tools used by translators are SDL Trados, Wordfast, and memoQ. (ProZ)
- However, when asked which is their least favorite CAT tool to use, the same tools rank quite highly as well. (ProZ)
- The most important feature translators look for in a translation software is ease of use. (ProZ)
(B) Business Use Statistics
- The market share for translation management software is projected to increased by USD 1.58 billion from 2020 to 2025, at a CAGR of 14.81%. (Technavio)
- Using the right software can help cut translation costs by 90% that stem from human errors, unnecessary email communication, and time spent on uploading content and searching databases. (Business Insider)
- One company saw their productivity increase by up to 60% in their first 5 months of using translation software. (Smartcat)
- Another company reported that projects managers spent 40% less time on localization-related processes. (SmartCat)
- More than 50% of translators reported that most or all of their agency clients request or require them to use a specific CAT tool when working together. (ProZ)
Machine Translation Statistics
Machine translation (MT) simply refers to the use of artificial intelligence to translate content instantly, and it's a gamechanger when it comes to translation speed.
The two most common machine translation systems are Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) and the newer Neural Machine Translation (NMT). We explain more about their difference in this article. Here are some top facts you would want to know about MT.
(A) Market Stats
- The global machine translation market has reached over USD 1.1 billion in 2022. (Unbabel)
- As a refresher, the global machine translation market was valued at USD 650 million in 2020. It is expected to reach USD 3 billion by 2027. (Global Market Insights)
- According to Global Market Insights, the US market for machine translation can be found in the following sectors, and the market size of all sectors is expected to grow in the next 5 years:
- Asia Pacific is the fastest growing local market for machine translation, while North America currently represents the largest market. (Mordor Intelligence)
- Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) alone contributed to more than 65.0% of the overall MT market revenue. (Grand View Research)
- Since June 2020, machine translation providers have added more than 2,000 language pairs, including many low-resource languages. (Intento)
- According to a July 2020 report, the top performing MT provider in terms of likeness to human translation is Amazon. (Intento)
- Depending on the quality of the MT provided, some translators may charge only 50% to 70% of their regular translation rates for post-editing services. (ProZ Forum)
(B) Usage Stats
- Google Translate has over 500 million users daily. (EarthWeb)
- Over 70% of independent language professionals in Europe said they use machine translation to some extent. (European Commission)
- 39% of marketers said they use machine translation in their localization strategy. Among them, 83% said they are confident in the quality of their translations. (Unbabel)
- Machine translation is the third most used technology by independent linguists in Europe, after translation memory and terminology management. Slightly more than 70% reported using MT for their work, albeit half of them only on occasion. (Slator)
- Language service providers reported that the percentage of projects for end-clients using machine translations climbed from 13% in 2019 to 24% in 2020. (CSA Research)
- The best MT quality has been seen in content related to Computer Software, Legal Services, and Telecommunications. (Intento)
- On the other hand, content that is most difficult for MT to get right came from the following genres: Professional and Business Services, Instructions for Use, and Sales & Marketing. (Intento)
- A study assessed Google translations of medical instructions for patients and found that Spanish translations had the highest accuracy rate of 94%, followed by Tagalog (90%), and Korean (82.5%). However, MT is still not recommended for medical application due to inconsistencies. (ACEP Research Forum)
- The 3 content types that are commonly translated using MT are (1) technical information, (2) client-internal communications, and (3) third-party content. (CSA Research)
- The multinational airline company, AirAsia, uses machine translation to help their 22,000 employees from 16 different nationalities communicate better as some are non-English-speaking. (Workplace from Facebook)
- MercadoLibre, one of the largest online marketplace in Latin America, uses machine translation to empower Spanish and Portuguese-speaking employees to communicate with each other and their customers more effectively. (Workplace from Facebook)
- A study of machine translation from English to Swedish showed that the output required an average of 3 edits per sentence. (Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing 2017)
- The same study found that the human translation of the same text is longer than the machine translation. (Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing 2017)
Translation Memory Statistics
Many translation software allows you to save translation memories (TM), which keeps a record of all your approved translations so you can reuse them in new projects. The database then suggests translations based on similar or matching segments between your old and new content.
Generally, the more you translate, the more you can save on translation costs by recycling translations because there tend to be more matches as your translation memories expand (here is a detailed TM guide).
- The use of TM can help reduce the cost of translation updates by 20 to 30%. It also reduced delivery time by 50% on average, resulting in faster turnaround. (Language Science Press)
- The use of TM is most useful in situations where one has a document that is large in size and contains repetitive and recyclable content. (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
- In a 2022 survey, over 50% of respondents say they regularly use TM in translation. (European Commission)
- The use of TM is highest among translators who translate technical or repetitive texts, as well as those who possess IT skills. (Dublin City University)
- One study reported that 82.5% of professional translators used TM technology. Those who specializes in technical, financial, or marketing texts are more likely to use TM tools. (Imperial College London)
- Another survey found that most TM users specialized in translating technical and scientific texts. (Journal of Specialized Translation)
- The top 3 reasons translators cited for using TM were to save time (86% agreed), ensure consistency in terminology (83%), and improve translation quality (70%). (Imperial College London)
- Translators claimed a 10% to 60% increase in productivity when using TM. (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
- Within half a year of implementing a translation memory system, the digital marketing agency, Dataduck, could automatically translate 15% of their content using TM alone, which significantly reduced per-word costs. (Smartling)
- Cybersecurity company, Kaspersky, reduced their localization budget by about 10 times within 4 years of utilizing translation memories. (Memsource)
- Bernhard Beumer Maschinenfabrik KG, a multinational manufacturer of intralogistics systems, reported a 30% reduction in translation costs after using TM. (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
- A 2007 study used eye-tracking technology to examine the cognitive load of translators while translating using TM. As expected, the findings showed that fuzzy matches of lower percentages (similar but not exact matches) demanded more effort and concentration from them. (Perspectives Studies in Translatology)
- The translators used a minimum level of cognitive effort when working with fuzzy matches between 60% to 69% similarity. Anything less than 60% cause their eye pupils to decrease in size, indicating a more focused effort on the task. (Perspectives Studies in Translatology)
I'm ready to look into translation solutions for my business. What should I do next?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for translation and localization. Hence, we created these resources to help you figure out what features you may need while searching for a translation tool
- Translation Software: The Complete Guide (2022)
- 25 Best Translation Software for Business in 2022
- 11 Translation Software Features for Business
- Machine Translation: Best Options for Enterprise
- Translation Memory: Everything You Need to Know
Things are looking good for the translation industry simply because of globalization. If you have a product or service that's highly marketable to an international audience, it's a good idea to invest in localizing your website and other communications.
If you're interested, I'd like to invite you to try our online translation management software for free. Click here to start your free trial of Redokun.