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Translation in lockdown

by John Saunders
27th Apr 20 2:23 pm

Around one in every six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK is in London. The capital is fighting an unseen enemy under strict lockdown conditions and is suffering more than any other UK city. Many workers are struggling to adapt their roles to working from home while others have lost their jobs outright. However, for a lucky few, the coronavirus lockdown has done little to change their working lives. According to Espresso Translations, those who provide translation and localization services for a living are the ideal example of this. Whether they work for a translation agency or sell their services freelance, professional translators are well placed to see out the lockdown with minimal hassle – at least in terms of their working lives.

Professional translation services in London

London is a city of rich linguistic diversity. How many different languages are spoken in London? According to Project Britain, which calls London the most linguistically diverse city in the world, the capital’s residents speak over 250 different languages.

What is the second most spoken language in London? While Polish is the most commonly spoken non-English language in England and Wales, with 546,000 speakers, it is Bengali that tops the table of non-English languages spoken in London.

According to the 2011 Census, over 90% of people in England and Wales speak English as their first language. Just 8%, meanwhile, can fluently speak a second tongue. This means that there is plenty of demand for professional translation services in the UK and particularly in London where they contribute to the smooth flow of both the business world and residents’ personal lives.

As the capital’s most spoken non-English language, there’s plenty of call for Bengali translation and localization services in London. Silheti translation, Panjabi translation, and Gujerati translation are also in plenty of demand, along with a vast range of other languages from around the world.

Working for a translation company in London

How is translation defined? Translation is the conversion of one language to another. The translation could be of a written document, a website, a video, an audio file or any other kind of document or media.

Can you work from home as a translator? Absolutely. Those working for translation and localization companies often work from home, both in London and elsewhere around the world. Translators’ work naturally tends to span more than one country, so working across international borders and living in varied locations comes with the territory. The industry is also awash with freelance translation professionals, who can base themselves where they choose and conduct their business entirely online or by phone/video call.

This means that the translation industry already has well-established processes in place for enabling translators to work from home. As such, many of those providing translation and localization services will notice little difference to their working lives as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. At least, not from a practical perspective.

Providing translation services under pressure

Where translators will be feeling the difference is in their mental wellbeing. Some will be stuck at home on their own, with no face-to-face human contact for weeks on end. Others will be tearing their hair out trying to educate their children at the same time as keeping their translation clients happy. And common to all of those providing translation services – and everyone else in London – is the overriding mental strain of being trapped indoors for 23 hours of every day.

Translators, at least, already have a mature industry available to them in terms of support. From translation forums to groups on social media sites, there are plenty of established ways for translators to connect with one another while working remotely. Such systems can provide a much-needed sense of solidarity and connection to those being forced to remain in their homes.

Given the ease with which translation and localization professionals can work from home, those who speak a second language and have suddenly found themselves out of work in London could do well to consider this as an alternative career option.

The financial benefits of working for a translation agency

How much money can you make as a translator? According to Payscale, the average translator salary in London is £27,000 (with the scale ranging from £19,000 to £51,000).

Whether you work for a translation agency or as a freelancer can have a big impact on your rate of pay. Generally, freelancers get to keep more of their income as they don’t have to cover the costs of an agency’s overheads. However, translation agencies tend to have a steady stream of clients, meaning that they are often an easy way for translators to find work. Even at a lower rate of pay, the volume and regularity of work sourced via a translation and localization agency can mean that a translator’s overall income ends up being higher.

Translators who specialize in a particular area of work can also push up their incomes. Right now, medical translation is in plentiful demand not just in London but around the world, with both agencies and freelancers supporting global medical communities to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Within London, legal and business translation services are also an important part of city life. London is considered by many to be the business capital of the world – a title that it vies for constantly with the likes of New York. To conduct business on a global scale, the UK capital relies on the work of an army of translation and localization specialists, as well as those providing interpretation services.

Many of London’s businesses are currently adapting and reshaping their services in order to remain financially viable during these unprecedented times. For those providing translation services, this provides a potential opportunity in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Business translation, website translation, video translation… all of these are likely to be of use to London’s businesses right now as they try to keep up with the rapidly changing situation. Coupled with the ease with which translators can work from home, this means that they are uniquely placed to see out the coronavirus lockdown in London within minimal disruption to their livelihoods.

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