Translation and Interpreting in London

London is growing to become the translation and interpreting capital of the world. The number of translation companies in the city, the growing number of qualified translators resident there plus the increased demand of work flowing in all point to booming business for linguists and companies alike.

Why and how has London developed to this point? There are in fact many reasons. Most notably the time zone, access to different languages, translation specific university courses, strong IT networks and a well developed translation industry with active associations and business bodies.

One can say that London sits in between time zones. Whether a client in the USA or in China needs a translation, they will always at some point be able to communicate with a London based translation company. Other countries may be at one extreme of the time zones often resulting in delayed communications and missed phone calls. Added to this advantage, London’s language of business is also English which means most international businesses will prefer to communicate with a company in London rather than say Berlin or Paris.

The number of languages spoken in London is estimated to be around 300 (see ‘Multilingual Capital’ Baker & Eversley, 2001). Some commentators even say this is an underestimation. London finds itself in this advantageous position due to a) emigration in high numbers to the capital b) an influx of international and multilingual workforce from Europe and elsewhere c) more enthusiasm by locals wanting to learn languages and d) universities and other courses aimed at language learning and specifically translation.

The development of linguists is well looked after in London and the UK generally. Universities have been quick at reacting the need for more translators over the past decades and once can now find a plethora of courses, both BAs and MAs, covering a range of translation topics including Translation in a European Context, Theory and Practice of Translation, Legal Translation, Audiovisual Translation, Translation & Computer-Assisted Translation Tools and Scientific, Technical and Medical Translation to name but a few.

The translation industry in the UK and London is well developed. Two main bodies look after standards within the industry both for translators/interpreters and translation companies. The Association of Translation Companies acts more on behalf of companies whereas the Institute of Translation and Interpreting does both. The Institute of Linguists oversees translators and interpreters only.

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