When the Industry Unites to Understand the Future
Running a survey is a tough exercise for research analysts. You never know if enough people will have an interest in responding and whether they will enter reliable responses. Yet, we rely on representative samples of good data to be able to run all the frequencies and correlations that we wish share with our readers.
Recently, we undertook a large-scale survey of translators and interpreters all over the world. CSA Research has a database of over 18,000 language service providers, but we don’t have such a database for the frontline people doing the work on the projects. Thus, in order to be able to correctly determine what the future of freelance and in-house linguists will look like and how buyers and LSPs need to prepare for that, we had to make sure we could collect a large number of answers from a broad pool of profiles around the world.
We are proud to announce that for this survey, in nine weeks, over 11,000 translators and interpreters started the survey and 7,363 went to the end of the long questionnaire. This represents an extremely strong sample size, especially as we successfully targeted a variety of profiles from freelance to in-house linguists, translators and interpreters, newbies and veterans, and linguists on all continents.
Who Helped Us?
First, we want to thank all the linguists who participated in mass numbers for using some of their precious time to share their perspective.
We also want to thank the various organizations that partnered with us to promote the survey with translators and interpreters in their network and with their in-house staff. Their help was essential in achieving such impressive numbers.
- Proz.com: This popular linguist marketplace is a great conduit to reach linguists worldwide. The Proz team added notifications within their platforms that generated thousands of responses.
- Translators without Borders: This nonprofit organization actively promoted the survey to its linguist network, which tends to include a less standard profile of vendors and has strong representations in countries that were otherwise harder to reach.
- Many other organizations: The list is too long for us to mention everybody, but many translator and interpreter associations as well as language service providers saw the value in this research and actively promoted the survey to their list of contacts. A special thank you to Lionbridge who brought 400 answers to the finish line and the Translation Bureau of Canada who made it its mission to ensure we achieved a representative sample for Canada. FIT, GALA, Women in Localization, and Multilingual also actively got involved with outreach to their members and readers.
What about the Translations?
English is a common language either as a source or target for many linguists around the world, but not necessarily for all. So, we decided to make the survey available in a total of 14 languages.
- CSA Research was targeting areas that have traditionally low response rates due to cultural and language preferences. As a result, we translated the survey into Russian and several Asian languages.
- Translators without Borders wanted to increase responses for specific geographies such as Africa and the Middle East and donated translation services to add languages like Fulfulde and Swahili.
In the end, about a quarter of respondents (26%) chose a language other than English to participate in the study, showing a strong preference for taking a survey in their language, even if some may have just been curious about the quality of the translations.
Our research team is actively working on cleaning the data set. As a fun tidbit about the survey processing, the beauty of working with such a multilingual group is that we are finding Chinese free text answers in the Russian version of the survey and many other such combinations that keep our data processing team on their toes.
We have thousands of correlations in store. We will publish all the basic data in the coming weeks at no cost for the survey takers and our partners. Over time, we will also publish additional data slices for members. The results will help enrich discourse about the role and concerns of – and provide a voice for – the individual linguists without whom the language industry would not exist.
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