Translation Industry During Quarantine

Impacts of the quarantine on the translation industry. How translator's life has changed and what are the most popular translation industries during the epidemic.

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has become one of the greatest modern challenges for humanity in many respects. Apart from the healthcare, one of the main sources of concern is the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, which suffers from the quarantine: closed borders, halt in the production, education, services, and tourism have a detrimental effect on the world economic development. However, the pandemic has shed light on an important fact – business on the internet is the most prepared and adaptable to any conditions. For the translation industry, it signifies the high demand since business owners try to reach new markets with a larger audience on the web, which boosts the need for more marketing content and documents in many languages.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the new infectious disease caused by coronavirus discovered in 2019 in Wuhan, China and introduced to humans for the first time, as reported by WHO. It is somewhat similar to SARS-CoV which caused an outbreak in 2002-2004. The main symptoms are fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. COVID-19 causes severe pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death in infected people. Its main route of transmission is through droplets produced during coughing, sneezing, or speaking. The droplets can get into another person’s mucous membranes causing infection or fall on surfaces contaminating them. The virus was first found in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. The source of the virus is believed to be a bat in the Wuhan market and its consumption caused the transmission to a human. Coronavirus rapidly spread globally due to its extremely high contagiousness and the ability to spread the infection before any symptoms in the carrier appear. The statistic is horrifying: almost 1.8 million cases worldwide with more than 100,00 fatalities. While the China epidemic already starts to decline, countries such as the US now witness the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak with more than half a million people infected and the mortality rate of 3.72%.

How the COVID-19 will Affect the Translation Industry?

The current situation with the translation and language industry is ambivalent. Everything depends on the company, its location and the response to the situation. Those who had the technical possibility and managed to organize the effective working process from home now remain on the top. The entire world now is at home which gives a strong impetus to the development of trade and entertainment on the internet. YouTube, Netflix, social media, Amazon witness a surge in the number of users. It produces the need for more content globally. It is good news for translators since their services will be in higher demand and their work is much easier to be organized remotely.

Especially wanted will be Chinese translators. There are several reasons behind it: because of the economic gap that formed during quarantine China as it recovers after the epidemic now needs to quickly regain its position as the global producer and exporter. Another reason is the active exchange of the experience of fighting against the virus and treatment of the patients that drives the global discussion and information exchange between researchers in healthcare, virology, immunology, epidemiology, etc. So the highest demand can be expected in translators in the medical sector and the field knowledge will be most welcome. Considering that such translators are not numerous, the specialists in related disciplines now have a good opportunity to expand their skillset and satisfy the high demand for the work.

What About Interpreters?

Interpreters, on the other hand, are at a disadvantage. During the quarantine, face-to-face meetings are rare and international visits are almost impossible. Social distancing and other preventive measures create the unbearable conditions for interpreting and so the many companies in this field experience financial losses and employment reduction. There are some solutions like online interpreting but these are not much popular and less convenient than live meetings or email. This situation is temporary although the ripple effect brought by the COVID-19 pandemic will have some long-term effects and it is hard to make some predictions. So the specialists in the field need to think of the possible ways out of the situation. In general, translation companies are believed to experience a surge in demand for their services which can become a temporary solution for interpreters.

Popular Translating Services Now and in the Near Future

Just as Chinese translation will become more popular in the future, some other languages like Spanish or Italian translation service will have much less demand than usual. The distribution of the services within the industry might also change its usual pattern. Here is the list of the services in the translation industry that will be in the highest demand during the quarantine and post-quarantine period:

Document Translation

This type of translation is always popular. Currently, there is a high demand for document translation service for the governmental announcements, the information provided by non-governmental organizations e.g. WHO, advisory materials, like brochures and bulletins. Also, soon the recovery from the pandemic will force companies to look for new business partners, broaden the variety of goods and services provided which presupposes signing new business contracts and various agreements.

Marketing Translation

Due to quarantine people are advised against going out unless there is a dire necessity. Many shops, cafés, restaurants, and other similar businesses need to find new ways to reach their clients. So e-commerce as well as various online services like restaurant delivery are now booming and need more advertisement. Entrepreneurs are now trying to reach a wider range of consumers so they need translation for product description, localization of ads and the like.

Medical Translation

Since COVID-19 is a new virus, it is not well-studied yet. Researchers and doctors now rapidly produce information about it, some of which may be crucial in the fight against the pandemic. The global healthcare industry needs to be informed about the latest findings regarding the novel coronavirus in order to know how to counteract against its spreading and treat the patients more effectively. It produces the demand for translation of medical publications, research, articles in scientific journals, etc.

On-site Language Services

Although most of the events like conferences or contests were canceled or rescheduled, some services like remote medical interpreting are now popular due to the current circumstances. The global pandemic brings the necessity for more active information exchange regarding the coronavirus. Some other specific interpreting services may also be in demand while the general tendency with on-site will remain low for the next few months.

The quarantine has changed the life and daily routine of almost all people. The state of deprivation humanity is now in, affects everything from mental health to work-life balance. Many families now undergo a crisis in relationships. In this period, it is important to pull oneself together and not to let the emotions run high. One needs to stick to the daily routine adjusted to the current circumstances.

How a Translator’s Routine Has Changed?

Hopefully, the work of a translator is rather flexible and it is possible to continue working during the quarantine. With the internet, it is easy to keep in touch with your team or clients via Zoom or FaceTime. However, a translator who is not used to working remotely, having to stay at home may be very challenging. Any work that presupposes writing requires concentration and comfortable working space. To stay productive while working at home there are some tips to follow:

Make a Schedule

The time you spend on work should be adequately distributed and have some limits. It is much easier to take control of one’s work at home when you have a clear schedule.

Set Specific Deadlines

Set your own deadlines ahead of the real ones. Any big project should be divided into milestones. The correct planning is the key to the normal workflow. By complying with your own deadlines you will not find yourself finishing a project at 5 a.m. on your fourth cup of coffee.

Create Working Space

Do not work in bed or pajamas, with eye patches on or in a bathrobe. Find a place that is quiet and comfortable for you with the minimum distractors around. Dress comfortably and appropriate in case you will have a Zoom call with your team. In the home working space, you need to feel comfy but not to such an extent that it will make you want to take a nap.

Eliminate Multitasking

Do not try to cook some dishes while working: multitasking is wrong and unproductive. Either your meal or your work will suffer. The core of multitasking is not doing several things at a time, but switching from one activity to another that decreases attention, speed, and effectiveness.

Delimit Work and Life

During your leisure time do not try to do work. Keep the balance and set the specific limits. Do not let the work interfere in your life and vice versa. While working, forget about the laundry, washing dishes and things of the like. When the work for the day is over, switch to the home mode.

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What to Do if You Lost a Job?

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic can be too hard for some companies. It is possible to lose one’s job, especially when working for a small business. However, it is a must to stay calm regardless of what happens. All of the changes taking place today are temporary measures and the situation will get back to the norm in a while. If your financial situation allows, you can spend your time on quarantine developing your professional skills or learning something new. There are dozens of online courses in a great variety of fields on FutureLearn, Khan Academy, Udemy and many other educational platforms. Alternatively, you can spend this time doing the things you would always postpone for the later time, watching the movies and reading the book on your list.

If you want or need to continue working, the internet offers many opportunities. The best match for a translator would probably be translation on freelance but there are also some related fields like content writing, transcribing recordings, or giving private lessons in a foreign language. Maybe you can find some interesting job that you will fall in love with.