Language Industry Top Quotes of 2018

From technology, markets, and M&A to investment and the competitive landscape, the language industry leaders we interviewed in 2018 commented on a wide range of issues. Here is a summary of the most notable quotes of 2018, a year that saw major innovation and consolidation in the industry.


February 5, 2018: For Linguists, It’s Time to Sink or Swim

“Closing the gap between humans and machines is what the market demands, and what the market demands is always what the market gets. Continuing to deny that computers and humans complement one another is regressive and nonsensical. Battling it is futile” — Simon Klys, Freelance Translator / Editor

February 26, 2018: Backlash Against Australia’s Workplace Regulator for Machine Translating Its Website

“We stand firm in the view that implementation of machine translation on such a high profile government website, dealing with workplace rights of Australians is inappropriate and dangerous” — Costa Vasili, CEO, EthnoLink Language Services

April 3, 2018: Measuring Machine Translation Quality in the Era of Neural

“Companies often overlook how disruptive a technology MT actually is: it impacts not just technically trained staff, but also project managers, sales and marketing, the training team, finance employees, and of course post-editors and quality reviewers. All of this should be taken on board beforehand if the correct decision is to be taken with full knowledge of the expected return on investment, but in practice it rarely is” — Professor Andy Way, Deputy Director, ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology

May 16, 2018: Simultaneous Interpreters May Soon Get Real-Time Help Just When They Need It

“Building Computer-Assisted Interpreting systems is in everyone’s interests. Anything that can reduce the cognitive effort of jobs like term searching, number management and working with names is good news” — Dr Jonathan Downie PhD, AITI, Interpreter & Podcast Presenter, Troublesome Terps

April 9, 2018: Carousell and the South East Asia Localization Challenge

“We just use simple translation tools, such as Google Translate before manually translating with the local teams” — Marcus Tan, Co-Founder and President, Carousell

May 28, 2018: The Race for Open Source Neural Machine Translation

“We are talking about five thousand lines of code. We are talking about something huge and something tiny at the same time.”

“No company in the world can reproduce 250 papers just to check if they’re right or wrong and it is one of the reasons of the necessity of open source today”  — Jean Senellart, Global CTO, Systran

June 11, 2018:  England’s Top Judge Predicts ‘the End of Interpreters’

“I have little doubt that within a few years high quality simultaneous translation will be available and see the end of interpreters” — Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice (LCJ) of England and Wales

June 11, 2018: England’s Top Judge Predicts ‘the End of Interpreters’

“We do have to remember however that so far the lab results of machine interpreting have been shown to be irrelevant to real-life” — Dr Jonathan Downie PhD, AITI, Interpreter & Podcast Presenter, Troublesome Terps

June 14, 2018: May 2018 Marked (yet) Another Record Month for Neural Machine Translation

“I believe that NMT is the gateway for all the NLP Technologies” — Jean Senellart, Global CTO, Systran

August 24, 2018: In Human vs. Machine Translation, Compare Documents, Not Sentences

“Microsoft isn’t to blame for their system evaluation. It followed “best practice” in the community based on evaluating sentences, not entire documents, and we’re arguing that MT has now reached a level of quality where this “best practice” needs to change: we should use full documents to judge MT quality” — Samuel Läubli, PhD Candidate, the University of Edinburgh

September 4, 2018: Lingo24 Revenues Grow 23% to GBP 5.1m in the First Half of 2018

“There are very few use-cases we see that leverage the benefits blockchain provides in terms of provenance or distribution that couldn’t be solved in a more efficient way with existing technology” — Christian Arno, CEO, Lingo24

September 27, 2018: In Singapore, Seven Translators Scoop Grants Worth USD 7,500

“Our machine translation engine achieved better accuracy in our local context than many commercially available translation tools for the English-Chinese language pair” — Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)

October 17, 2018: What RWS Told Investors About How Well Post-Editing Works in Patent Translation

“RWS staff translation team are in PEMT production pilot… Test results show significant productivity gains for junior translators, but are less persuasive for seniors” — RWS

October 22, 2018: Livewords Acquires Rival Dutch Language Service Provider Metamorfose

“Human, computer-assisted translation, is used for translations where high quality is required, e.g. in view of brand image or legal implications. For e-commerce and high-volume environments, we often apply a combination of MT with human post-editing. For real-time environments such as chat, blogs and messaging, the use of NMT is a suitable solution” — Livewords

November 2, 2018: The Art of Hyping Machine Translation

“We still need to be careful not to classify every new piece of research as a breakthrough” — John Tinsley, Co-Founder and CEO, Iconic Translation Machines

November 9, 2018: Canada’s OXO Translations Expands Into Latin America With Ccaps Acquisition

“As early adopters of neural MT and strong advocates of premium translations, we see the value in letting the machine do the boring work and leave for the experts what makes human” — Charles Lespérance, CEO, OXO Translations


January 23, 2018: Lionbridge Will Be a ‘Very Different Company’, Says CEO John Fennelly

“I think Lionbridge for years has been focused on a series of businesses and acquisitions and became a relatively complex company. Our mandate is very simple. We’ll simplify the company, really getting back to the roots of the company, building our core businesses, with extreme emphasis on organic growth” — John Fennelly, CEO, Lionbridge

March 9, 2018: thebigword Bounces Back

“I am looking to take advantage of any potential acquisitions that will strengthen our business and have appointed a firm of global investment bankers to advise on future growth opportunities, including fundraising options” — Larry Gould, CEO, thebigword

March 12, 2018: ULG Acquires VIA, Pushes Annual Revenue Past USD 100m

“ULG continues to look for strategic acquisition opportunities and anticipates additional acquisitions in the future”  — Hans Fenstermacher, Managing Director of Corporate Development, ULG

May 21, 2018: The Translation People Acquires Cicero in UK Acquisition

“Consolidation is inevitable as technology investment is a challenge for some of the smaller companies in our industry” — Steve Wilde, MD, The Translation People

July 13, 2018: Datawords In Bolt-on Acquisition of Video Content Agency 87seconds

“Datawords will continue to look for new acquisitions to both complete its digital production and creation offering and reinforce or expand its geographical footprint, particularly in North America, Europe and China”  — Datawords

July 19, 2018: Language Connect Sold to UK eCommerce Company The Hut Group

“The Hut Group has been proactively looking for in-house translation, to enable the Business to provide timely, localised content across their websites globally” — The Hut Group

July 23, 2018: Why SDL Acquired Donnelley Language Solutions

“This deal is a fantastic strategy accelerator. I don’t have to change strategy. This slots right in the middle of the fairway of our strategy” — Adolfo Hernandez, CEO, SDL

August 13, 2018: TransPerfect Moves Corporate Headquarters to Nevada

“We are looking for M&A candidates in the services space (…). In the technology space, we are looking for strategic software purchases that would fit well in our existing technology stack” — Phil Shawe, CEO, Transperfect

September 6, 2018: Smartcat Raises USD 7 Million in Series A Funding from Matrix Partners

“After we got market proof that there was a demand out there for what we at Smartcat were doing, we wanted not only to maintain that pace but also to speed it up; hence, the investment” — Ivan Smolnikov, CEO, Smartcat

October 24, 2018: Technicis Continues Shopping Spree With AAC Global Acquisition

“AAC makes a significant part of its turnover in training services, [which] creates a new line of services for the Group” — Benjamin du Fraysseix, CEO, Technicis

October 25, 2018 :BTI Studios Acquires Netherlands Dubbing Studios as Dutch Dubbing On the Rise

“With demand for Dutch dubbing on the rise and clients showing a preference for owned and operated studios, it was natural…to bring them in-house” — Björn Lifvergren, Founder, BTI Studios

October 31, 2018: LanguageWire Acquires Xplanation As Consolidation in Europe Accelerates Rapidly

“over the last 12 months LanguageWire has been in dialogue with several LSPs in the market. Our goal has not been to become big, but to build a company that fits to our business model and where both entities strengthen the customer proposition. We found the best fit with Xplanation and relatively soon the owners agreed on the overall terms” — Henrik Lottrup, CEO, LanguageWire

November 28, 2018: Straker Says Their English to French Translators Now Average 1,000 Words Per Hour

“Our focus is on templating the acquisition and integration of USD 3-5m revenue companies” —  Grant Straker, CEO, Straker Translations


January 11, 2018: Why Translators Should Start Thinking About How Much Their Hour Is Worth

“But with adaptive technology and who knows what other forms of AI-powered augmented translation, how are we going to fit the fuzzy grid into this? We won’t. Translators will be paid based on time spent working. So everybody will change how they work and everybody will win. Dear translators, start thinking how much your hour is worth. It is about time” — Silvio Picinini, Machine Translation Language Specialist, eBay

January 22, 2018: From Indonesia to Nigeria: Inside iflix’s Localization Rollout

“Our long-term vision is that localization keeps growing as an industry globally which, combined with a constant growth in entertainment content, will bring more and more linguistic talents to pursue a career in localization” — Christian Testmann, Global Director of Localization, iflix

January 31, 2018: LanguageLine Contract in Canada Probed by Alberta’s Ministry of Justice

“LanguageLine claims they are using the services of Canadian interpreters, but actually, because it’s a third party provider, we don’t know who’s behind the lines. We don’t know who is interpreting. We don’t know anything” — Hellen M. Martínez, Owner, Words Without Borders Inc.

February 2, 2018: Literary Translators to Share USD 10,000 Prize Pot with Authors in National Book Awards

“Translation is not highly respected work. So like many translators, I do it for love” — The late Ursula Le Guin, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writer

March 19, 2018: Improving Localization Readiness at Game Developer Nordeus

“Gaming is the largest segment within the entertainment industry; bigger than the film, TV, and music industries” — Jasmin Jelača, Localization Lead, Nordeus

March 27, 2018: Lingo24 Revenues Grow 8% in 2017 to GBP 9.5m While Losses Narrow

“Many international companies are locating their European ecommerce operations in Amsterdam, and I believe the uncertainty around Brexit has made some companies choose to undertake more projects there when the UK could have been an option” — Christian Arno, CEO, Lingo24

March 29, 2018: Denmark Issues Giant Language Services Tender Worth USD 86 Million

“For some time there has been quality issues and lack of transparency in the interpreting market in Denmark – with a lot of negative stories in the press”  — Britta Aagaard, Head of Translation, Semantix

May 11, 2018: Breaking the System? The SOSi Interpreter Ruling and Its Implications

“Requiring that all interpreters under the contract be reclassified as employees will simply break the system. How can you justify employee status for all interpreters regardless of workload and frequency of demand for a given language combination?” — Barry Slaughter Olsen, Associate Professor of Translation and Interpretation, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

June 1, 2018: How ZOO Digital Is Making the Most of Media Localization’s Prime Time

“The dubbing market is actually highly fragmented whereas there is much more consolidation in subtitling” — Stuart Green, CEO, ZOO Digital

September 13, 2018: Toppan to Combine Translation Units After Buying Merrill’s Capital Markets Business

“Translation demand is mostly coming from Asia and we envision that growth to continue for some time” — Po Fong, Director of Operations, Translation, Toppan Vintage

September 24, 2018: SDI Media CEO Mark Howorth on How Streaming Services Reset the Bar in Media Localization

“Do not be fooled by the top line growth rates that make this [industry] sound really cool and sexy” —  Mark Howorth, CEO, SDI Media

“A good translator is worth their weight in gold. But it is challenging to pay them in gold because our customers are not willing to accept higher prices” —  Mark Howorth, CEO, SDI Media

October 12, 2018: Lessons in Building a Language Industry Startup

“There’s a lot of businesses out there that actually need interpreting but they don’t even know these services exist” — Bryan Forrester, CEO, Boostlingo

October 23, 2018: UK LSP Intonation Brexit-Proofs Its Business with Poland Acquisition

“We had identified the need to have a physical location within the wider EU and this has intensified in recent times, given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit” — Dan Peachey, MD, Intonation / City Legal Translations

November 15, 2018: BTI Studios Expands into Germany with Second Dubbing Studio Deal in Weeks

“German dubbing has a long tradition and is all about people, experience, and relationships. The demand for German dubbing is higher than ever before, and connections to the best talents are key in delivering high quality dubs” — Dr Martina Berninger, co-CEO, Berliner Synchron


January 4, 2018: CEO Hernandez on how SDL Is Preparing for the Language Industry’s ‘New Normal’

“The models, the production, the processes, the technology, the thinking and the ambition that we’ve used for the past 10-15 years are simply not good enough to deliver on what is coming” — Adolfo Hernandez, CEO, SDL

March 6, 2018: SDL’s ‘Frustrating’ Financials Overshadow Operational Progress

“We just need now a little bit of time for the financials to catch up with the strategic and operational improvements. And this is why it sort of feels very frustrating to be in this situation” — Adolfo Hernandez, CEO, SDL

April 6, 2018: Amazon and Lionbridge Share Stage To Market Neural Machine Translation

“There’s no planet ever where we have enough data scientists to compete with Baidu or Amazon or Google or Microsoft, who are investing a gazillion dollars into this” — Jaime Punishill, Chief Marketing Officer, Lionbridge

May 4, 2018: TransPerfect Sale Clears Final Hurdle

“Personally, I feel both pleased and vindicated to have won the auction and to now be in a position to ensure that TransPerfect’s successful business model will be maintained into the foreseeable future”  — Phil Shawe, CEO, TransPerfect


June 8, 2018: ‘In Burmese It’s Just Not as Good’ – Facebook’s Language Tech Challenge

“A lot of the AI tools we’ve built require large amounts of training data…and that training data is readily available in the bigger languages. But in languages like Burmese, it’s just not as good” — Mike Schroepfer, CTO, Facebook

July 3, 2018: How Retail Giant Sportmaster Runs Translation Operations

“The most promising development in this field is the self-learning systems, such as the AdaptiveMT of SDL. At the same time, we are not planning to offer the raw MT output to our internal or external customers in the foreseeable future. To my opinion, machine translation is a tool to be used by professionals” — Pavel Dunaev, Head of the Translation Unit, Sportmaster

July 11, 2018: Continuous Localization of WebCEO’s SaaS Platform, Wiki-Style

“Using no third-party translation software means that our translation center works much faster. We can control its work and add suggested changes much faster than a CAT [translation productivity tool] provider would have done it” — Joanne Pimanova, Director of Marketing, WebCEO

September 5, 2018: Job Site Indeed is Assembling a New Kind of Team to Maximize Localization Impact

“Academia will need to adapt to the new reality and train professionals for the different types of work that MT post-editing requires,” he says. “We also foresee more differentiation between post-editors and specialized translators for niche subject areas or specializations” — Frank Hensgens, Managing Director DACH,

September 25, 2018: SAP’s Globalization Chief Ferose V R Sees a Bright Future for Translation

“if people are writing the obituary for the translation industry, I think they are completely off the mark” — Ferose VR, Senior Vice President and Head of Globalization, SAP

September 28, 2018: Are We Hiring for What’s Coming? Quora’s Lupe Gervas on Localization’s Talent Challenge

“Our industry is evolving so quickly and so fast that what worked 15 years ago may not work right now” — Lupe Gervas, Localization Manager, Quora

October 8, 2018: Korean Voice Assistant Highlights Tech’s Insatiable Hunger for Language Data

“The biggest difficulty has been acquiring sufficient data on languages” — Kang Da-Som, KT Corp

October 16, 2018: Inside Asia’s Growing Language Industry at SlatorMeet Hong Kong 2018

“My first task [at Alibaba] is how to make language into a product. And also what I focus [on is to] mainly use AI, mainly machine translation to combine with other AI technology like speech recognition” — Jie Li, Senior Product Operations Advisor, Alibaba Translate

October 19, 2018: Why Netflix Shut Down Its Translation Portal Hermes

“Netflix aimed to own the full process from subtitler recruitment through to working in our tools, and this started with Hermes. While we learned a lot and did get value from the test, after introspection and analyzing our core competencies, we decided vendors were better suited to use their core competencies and add value to the content localization ecosystem by owning the recruiting, training and onboarding processes” — Allison Smith, Program Manager, Localization Solutions, Netflix

October 23, 2018: GoPro, Tencent, Wordbee Share Stage at SlatorCon SF 2018 Technology Panel

“Our content does not lend itself well to machine translation” — Sonia Oliveira, Senior Director Globalization, GoPro

December 4, 2018: Shopify’s 6 Million Words Annually Aren’t Their Biggest Localization Challenge

“Like many other companies, we have a tiered-content strategy for translation. We expect a different level of quality for different kinds of content; some things really have to be perfect, others don’t” — Giulia Greco, Content and Localization Manager, Shopify

December 10, 2018: How Roche’s Internal Language Service Creates Value for the Pharma Giant

“Increasingly, our [internal] clients are asking for translation in real time and in highly accelerated time frames, combined of course with quality and low cost, or no cost at all” — Claudine Nick, Head of Project Management, Language Services, Roche


February 26, 2018: uTranslated Put out of Business by Machine Translation’s ‘Sheer Convenience’

“Not everybody left us for the convenience of machine translation, but we noticed that the number of these customers started to grow” — John Frazier, CEO, uTranslated

March 7, 2018: Semantix Rolls Up the Nordics, Buys Amesto Translation

“…the translation and interpretation industry is experiencing rapid changes, thus requiring extensive consolidation and major investments”  — Arild Spandow, CEO, Amesto Group

June 2, 2018: In EUR 24m Finnish Contract, Everyone Gets a Slice of the Pie

“We believe that the Nordic market will be down around 50% in 2019 compared with 2016” — Gierth Mejdell, COO, Hero Group Language Services

June 6, 2018: Hogarth CEO Richard Glasson on the Four Key Trends in Global Content

“The side of the road is littered with corpses of companies that failed to innovate, change, or adapt” —  Richard Glasson, CEO, Hogarth

July 2, 2018: Major Pay Increase Marks Big Win for Interpreters in Australian State of Victoria

“Private enterprise LSPs certainly have some challenges ahead of them in terms of having equitable access to government contracts” — Rebecca Haynes, CEO, ezispeak

August 9, 2018: Interpreting Software Startup Boostlingo Raises USD 3.4 Million in Series A

“The Google earbuds are not going to disrupt our business anytime soon” — Bryan Forrester, CEO, Boostlingo

October 4, 2018: SDL’s ‘Transparent Move’ on Regulated Industries

“There will be consolidation for sure […] and the whole industry could be automated a lot more but I don’t think this will be a market where the winner takes all” — Adolfo Hernandez, CEO, SDL

October 10, 2018: CyraCom CEO on Interpreting’s Video Conundrum and Ever More Transparent Supply Chain

“If we condone people making claims that are unsubstantiated and untrue, that is bad for the industry” — Jeremy Woan, CEO, CyraCom

October 30, 2018: MediaLocate Acquires JLS Language to Expand in Silicon Valley

“The industry is maturing and organic growth is becoming more difficult. Enterprise localization buyers generally stick with incumbent providers with whom they have invested time and resources to build sustainable programs” — Stephan Lins, CEO, MediaLocate

November 23, 2018: Déesse Buys Boutique Language Service Provider Birotech from Retiring Owners

“The mid-field of smaller translation agencies will fade away, between freelancers on the one hand, i.e. the people who really perform the translation works and also start to offer their services to end clients, often at low(er) prices, and the big agencies on the other hand, who have big capacity and can offer short turnaround times to clients” — Sébastien Devogele, Owner, Déesse

December 7, 2018: Lilt Completes Pivot to Managed Services

“Initially, we thought we could focus on the loop and partner with vendors for the humans. But in many cases our customers couldn’t find vendors who embraced this new way of working, so we began supplying the full solution” — Kyle Paice, Head of Marketing, Lilt


April 12, 2018: UK Media Localizer EIKON Taps Private Equity for Growth Financing

“Market drivers in the technology-enabled media sector continue to be exceptionally strong with increasing levels of content being produced and content producers targeting more global audiences, two trends which we believe Eikon will benefit significantly from” — Colin Granger, Partner, YFM

November 20, 2018: Poland’s Summa Linguae Buys Swedish LSP Kommunicera

“Exfluency is waiting for [Swiss regulatory] approval of their token classification and as soon as ready will commence its ICO – private placement is planned for January-March 2019, then the crowd-sale ICO should begin, but due to the highly unregulated and changing (crypto)environment this can again change” — Krzysztof Zdanowski, CEO, Summa Linguae