How Covid-19 has changed the translation industry?

13 December 2020

If we had a dollar for every time we heard the phrase the ‘new normal’ we’d quit translating, and buy this beautiful island in the Bahamas

Until dollars start raining down from the sky though, we’re happy to sit here and share some of the most interesting, surprising and important insights we’ve had since Covid-19 came along and changed the world of translation forever (for now). 


The Future is Digital

3.5 billion people worldwide have a smartphone. That’s over half of the world population, and that’s a wifi-hunting, 4G-draining, customer-pie that’s got every company drooling for a slice. 

Digital transformation has been around for almost 30 years, but with a fast-evolving global marketplace that’s experiencing its most sophisticated form so far, the language requests we receive now are guided by an understanding of digital consumer needs that we previously only experienced with larger companies. 

Digital marketing content is one of our top translation requests for the first six months of this year, and more than ever, businesses want help to technologically propel their products and services into new markets, and expand their audience reach beyond the borders of their countrywide marketplace. 


The Couch Potato Generation 

Lockdown got Netflix 16 million new sign-ups, and with the world stuck at home, is it any wonder that streaming service use during quarantine has exploded? 


Want to know what else exploded? Our subtitling studio. 

The worldwide surge in streaming service use is one consequence of quarantine life, but for the translation industry, it’s resulted in a frenzied rush to localize video content with subtitles in Arabic and English.

On Facebook alone, 85% of all video content is watched on mute, and with a viewership of more than 4 billion views a day, putting subtitles on your video content is a no-brainer for any marketing department or media agency worth its salt. 

Video was king way before Covid-19 came along, but a globally enforced quarantine has had individuals and businesses looking for new ways to connect with their audiences, and making sure that the content created is understood is a key factor in streaming success. 

Subtitles have gone from the kind of thing we only used to see in international cinema, to an everyday necessity to our video-consuming experience, and with so much available to watch, it’s easy to understand why subtitles are essential to a clear, audience-friendly visual experience. 


Global Problems Need Global Languages 

Our medical services have been pushed to their limit, and as a result of the pandemic, there is increased pressure on the medical translation industry to deliver important government recommendations, and medical information in multiple languages. This is not to mention the studies and lab findings by international teams that are tirelessly working to develop a vaccine. 

Translation and interpretation in the medical field have always been vitally important to the work that healthcare physicians do, and it all relates to patient access, and a patient’s ability to understand what they are going through, what treatment they require, and even what medicine to take and how often. 

The mixed messaging in the media, and sometimes conflicting advice (should you, or shouldn’t you wear a mask), were particularly interesting to our business, because as a language service provider, one of the key challenges we face is ensuring that central ideas, and messages are communicated without confusion; a difficulty in one language, but an altogether different problem when completed in multiple languages! 

Witnessing the global communication of Covid-19 and it’s symptoms, diagnosis and safeguarding advice have given us pause for thought, and a newfound appreciation for the work of frontline staff who often have to support their patients in multiple languages, without interpreter support. 

This is one difficult change to the translation industry that we simply have to accept for now.  

Trends Are Temporary, But Is This The ‘New Normal’?

There it is again. The ‘new normal’, making another dollar-worthy appearance. 

We’ve explored three changes in three very different areas of the translation industry, but this is a surface-scratching exercise that provides a handful of the highs and lows that we encounter, now that our collective priorities have shifted.

The truth is, we don’t know the full impact of Covid-19, but what we do know is that we’ve been forced to interact with technology in ways that we never have before, and that’s bound to have a long-term influence on the way we work, live and play. 


Got a campaign video you need to subtitle, or want to drop a quick marhaba our way? Visit and check out how we subtitle media into Arabic, and connect businesses with their audiences all over the Arabic-speaking world.