Market Size of the Global Language Services Industry 2009-2021

With the world becoming increasingly interconnected, the global language services market has seen rapid growth. In the last ten years, the market has doubled in size, reaching 46.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
The market size of the global language services industry 2009-2021

Global language services

Generally speaking, the language services market can be divided into three segments – instruction, translation, and localization. Translation differs from localization in that the former involves tasks where one language needs to be directly translated into another. This includes traditional activities such as document translation and interpreting services. Localization, on the other hand, refers to a broader process of cultural adaption, generally in more artistic areas such as creating voice-over for film and television. Depending on the context, either service may be required for digital platforms and online content.

Regional markets

As is perhaps not surprising given the region’s high level of development and linguistic diversity, Europe accounts for around half of the global language services marketGiven its diverse range of languages and high levels of economic development, it is perhaps not surprising that Europe is home to the largest language services market in the world, comprising almost half of the global market. The small size of the Latin American market may appear surprising though; given Spanish is the second-most spoken language globally. This, along with the large size of the North American market, maybe in part explained by the high level of demand for Spanish content within the United States.

Machine translation

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the language services industry. Machine translation, which is the process of using software to translate from one language to another, is a fast-growing field that is expected to more than triple in size from 2017 to 2024. Accordingly, the two largest providers in the global language services market – Transperfect and Lionbridge – are investing heavily in this area, offering software-based ‘artificial intelligence’ translation in conjunction with their more traditional translation services.