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Translation emerging from the corporate basementIs translation stuck in a corporate basement, like Milton in Office Space? Or to put it differently, after all of the hard work that goes into a translation, does anybody really read our work?

"Nobody reads the manual" is an oft-voiced complaint amongst technical writers and translators. We ourselves have previously wondered whether or not translation is the least important most important thing.

While many industry veterans are used to seeing our profession marginalized, things may be changing.

This was driven home to me on a recent business trip. Walking through Boston's Logan airport, I saw not one but two billboards advertising translation services.



Transperfect (above) actually had 2 billboards in Terminal A alone. 10 seconds after passing their first one, I saw this one from Xerox:



It seems like Xerox' campaign is still going strong after six months.

But the translation surprises didn't stop there. On the plane, I caught up with Wired. In two different issues, I found the following language-related full-page advertisements (click for larger version):





That's an awful lot of money being spent on translation-related advertising. So, what does it mean?

It looks like the translation business is emerging from the corporate basement but is it really? Or is it just a head fake, like Lionbridge's NPR sponsorship during the dot-com boom?

What do you think?


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3 Comments:

  1. Barbara Inge Karsch said...
    I heard the same complaint (nobody will read it anyway) and I saw some of the same ads in airports recently. I can only say "dein Wort in Gottes Ohren".
    Robin Meng said...
    I have no idea what's Lionbridge NPR sponsorship. My speculation for the advertisements is more and more international cooperates want to shift their focus to, or penetrate emerging markets. With this movement, they need to ensure their regulatory submission documents, package insert, and campaign messages are understood locally.
    Carlos said...
    I don't think that the translation business is going to be marginalised, not even due to the rise of Google translate and related apps. There will always be people in need for translation - if only specialised translation such as medical translation. These adverts proof me right, don't they?

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