At the turn of the year, it’s in our nature to take stock of what has passed and look forward to what will come.

While analyzing our translation numbers for 2016-2017, we noticed something interesting: the performance of each language in translation broadly reflects the performance of each country economically.

At the European level, the picture was positive overall. Italy, often seen as the poor man of Europe, actually increased its exports in 2017, particularly in the food & beverage and fashion & luxury sectors; in line with this, translation jobs into Italian grew a respectable +14%. Spanish translations soared an impressive +50%, perhaps reflecting the economy’s near return to pre-crisis levels, while German translations dropped -3%, a surprising figure given Germany is often considered the locomotive of Europe (though not always).

Internationally, English saw a good rise of +12% while maintaining its status as the world language with the highest numbers of words written by some margin. Brands did, however, make an increased effort to localize this year, particularly to the Chinese and Japanese markets (up +41% and +11% respectively). Translations into Arabic (-69%) and Russian (-23%) unfortunately fared less well, perhaps due to regional political challenges leading to fluctuating labor markets in the case of the former and poor performance on the high street in the latter.

Source: Official collated statistics of ELS Agency 2016-2017