Translation Trends for 2021: Where are we at?

Now that we are halfway through 2021, it’s time to take a detailed look at the trends that are shaping the translation and interpreting industry this year.

For the first time in 15 years, CSA Research did not release its annual sizing and forecast for the language services and technology market in 2020. However, it did estimate that without the pandemic, the market size would have reached US$51.94 billion in 2020 and US$54.17 in 2021.

In our annual report last year, we identified the following as translation trends to watch in 2020:

  • Multimedia translation
  • Multilingual customer support
  • Speech technology
  • Domain adaptive neural machine translation

Due to the disruption caused by coronavirus, 2020 was a challenging year for businesses around the world. As a result, machine translation (MT) and remote interpreting were both vital. They ensured business continuity, made sure that people could get the medical attention they required and allowed businesses to communicate with concerned customers.

So, although some of these translation trends did emerge in 2020, it’s also clear that others have a long way to go before they’re utilized across the industry.

What’s still going strong for the translation industry in 2021?

We have picked out four areas where the translation and localization sector is likely to evolve in 2021:

  • MTPE
  • Medical translations
  • Remote video interpreting
  • Continuous development of AI for MT

Let’s look at each of these translation industry trends in greater detail.

1)MTPE – Machine translation post-editing

Although machine translation has been gaining a reputation as a cheap and quick way to translate content over the past decade, studies dispute its accuracy when it’s used without human input. In fact, some studies estimate that some texts are only 60% accurate when translated by machines alone.

Consequently, the number of Language Service Providers using machine translation in conjunction with post-editing by humans is increasing. In fact, last year’s European Language Industry Survey found that 78% of language service providers were either already using or are planning to utilize MTPE.

2)Medical translations

With more people accessing healthcare services than ever before in 2020, medical translation looks set to be a major trend in 2021; particularly as the vaccine rollout continues.

As coronavirus is a global problem, countries and healthcare providers will need to coordinate vaccination efforts. Due to this, translation will be required to make sure that people from different backgrounds have access to the same information.

In 2021 and beyond, this will be particularly important because current research has shown that medical translations for discharge papers are not accurate enough to replace written English instructions and should potentially come with warnings about inaccuracies.

3)Remote video interpreting (RVI)

Although some events are now coming back, remote working has become the norm for many. Plus, Brexit regulations and coronavirus restrictions may make it difficult for interpreters to move around.

RVI has been around for years now, but high speed internet connections and portable devices make it easier to access reliable video than ever before.

The pandemic forced many interpreters to move online and the benefits have been clear for everyone in the industry to see. RVI has allowed healthcare to be more accessible and helped people to attend international business meetings even when flights have been banned.

With traveling options opening, people can go into clinics, offices and hospitals in 2021, video remote interpreters will be on hand to help in any conversation where a participant speaks another language.

4)Continuous development of AI for MT

In 2020, 66% of agencies and 44% of translation teams said they would invest in MT. However, although 2020 saw great levels of innovation in the machine translation sphere, there were some interesting raw MT disasters like Amazon in Sweden and

Thus, illustrating that although MT is undoubtedly useful, the events of 2020 have made it clear that further investment is required in AI. Some analysts predict that the machine translation market alone will increase in value to $1.5 billion by 2024.

If you have your own trends or predictions that we haven’t mentioned, then please comment below or send us an email at

Alternatively, if any of these translation industry trends are of interest to you or you’d like to learn more about our services, then contact us today. A member of the Ultimate team can explain how we can support your growth in 2021 and beyond.

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