Foreign language translation software producers have made headway into China in a bid to cash in on its growing translation market, which has been fueled by thecountry's recent acceptance into the World Trade Organization and the opening up of its markets to foreign competition.
SDL International, one of the world's largest providers of language translation software, has launched a Chinese version of its popular Translation Memory tool, SDLX, at the China Translation Achievements Exhibition, which ended here Sunday -- the first time a major foreign translation technology player has localized its product for the Chinese market.
Lu Donglin, General Manager of SDL's China office, said the launch of SDLX is conducive to the informationtization of China's translation market, which has only recently begun. The term informationatization refers to the use of technology, including Internet and software, to improve quality and efficiency.
According to SDL, about 85 percent of China's translation companies do not yet use any computer-aided translation (CAT) software, suggesting a large potential market.
SDL and China Translation and Publishing Corp. will jointly commit themselves to expanding the market coverage of SDLX translation solutions in China, Lu said.
As early as in 2001, Germany-based Trados, a software solutionsprovider, has successfully landed its Trados multilingual translation solutions in China. Trados provides software to several well-known Chinese companies, including Hua Wei, Sina.com and State Patent Office.
Huang Youyi, deputy director-general with the China Foreign Languages Publishing and Distribution Administration, said use of the Internet is extensive in translation, while the number of CAT software users is small.
Research on translation software in China was launched in the mid-1990s. China currently has no more than 10 established domestic translation software companies, including China National Computer Software and Technology Service Co., Huajian Machine Translation Co. and SJTU Sunway Information Technology Co..
Their products are not mature enough to compete with their foreign counterparts for computer translation is still a fledglingindustry in China, according to Huang.
China's fast economic growth and increased international communication with other economies of the world have driven the demand for translation.
According to Translators Association of China, there are currently over 3,000 translation companies operating in China. Thenumber may actually be closer to 10,000 in that many small companies, which are registered as consultant agencies, actually conduct translation businesses.
To survive in this competitive environment, translators will need to look to technology to improve efficiency and quality.
China's translation industry currently accounts for some 11 billion yuan (1.33 US dollars) annually, and that number is expected to grow to 21 billion yuan (2.53 dollars) by 2005, and could be twice that in the not-too-distant future.