Many of the largest and most successful enterprises use the Web to reach customers around the world. Providing information in local languages is pivotal to their business. Today W3C announced new work to make it easier for people to create Web content in the world’s languages. The new MultilingualWeb–LT (Language Technology) Working Groupwill develop standard ways to support the (automatic and manual) translation and adaptation of Web content to local needs, from its creation to its delivery to end users.
Translation: A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry, and Growing
Market analyses show that commercial translation currently represents an annual market of $21–26 billion, which enables hundreds of billions of dollars of cross-border business around the world. Multinational companies may need to translate Web content into dozens of languages simultaneously, and public bodies from Europe and India typically must communicate with citizens in many languages.
The lack of standards for exchanging information about translations is estimated to cost the industry as much as 20% more in translation costs, amounting to billions of dollars. In addition, barriers to distributing content in more than one language mean lost business. For instance, one study indicates that 51% of European retailers sell via the Internet, but only 21% support cross-border transactions. While 30% of European citizens have purchased online, only 7% have purchased from a retailer in another EU Member State. According to the same study, even multilingual Internet users avoid buying from a site that is in a language other than their own language.
As the Web becomes more diverse linguistically — Chinese, Russian, and Arabic have grown the most over the past decade — translation demands will increase as well. Fewer than one third of current Web users speak English as their native language and that proportion will continue to decrease as the Web expands. Many people already use online translation engines to support on-demand translation, making it even more important for content creators to consider these downstream uses of their content.
W3C Launches Work to Simplify Creation of Content in World's Languages
Filed by March 7, 2012on