The interpretation industry is part of the language services industry which includes translation. While the significance of the interpretation industry has only received a lot of attention over the last decade, it still remains a mystery to accurately state its role in society and its significance economically.
This field of work is key in terms of the service provided but also with regards to contribution to the global economy. In terms of service provision, interpreters have now been incorporated into many governments’ social services delivery ministries and departments. Interpreters are now an integral part of the service delivery systems in hospitals, courtrooms and schools. Medical professionals in many health institutions have had to seek the expertise of interpreters in order to communicate and be understood by patients especially in times of emergency when communication is critical. The effective delivery of justice and one of the fundamental rights of those appearing in a court of law demands that court processes are conducted in a language which can be understood by the parties involved especially the accused, where there is a language barrier between court officials and those seeking justice, the onus lies on the state to hire an interpreter, interpreters have therefore become part of the global justice system. Schools and universities have also increasingly recruited interpreters to be part of the education support services both for learners and other cooperating partners.
The economic significance of this industry has for a long time also not been documented. Recent research has however shown that the translation field is worth $33 billion globally. This figure is of course a comprehensive one accommodating many contributing elements. One of the elements is that this industry is run with what is called accompanying technologies. Accompanying technologies include microphones, headsets, computers and other technological gadgets which are used while executing this service. This noble profession has also become a major employer with thousands employed in the industry around the world; this employment rate translates into healthy tax returns into the economy as well as disposable income which contribute to the well-being of the economic system.
Interpreters and the interpretation industry can therefore be categorised as crucial to the delivery of social services as well as being key to economic growth in South Africa and around the World.