Beyond Words - Language Blog

Top 20 Target Languages: A Year in Translation

2009 proved to be a successful year for ALTA despite the economic conditions. In the Translation Services division, we managed thousands of projects that ranged widely in language combinations, scale, and complexity. As we noted in last year’s post, 10 Most Requested Languages for Translation in 2008, geopolitical events and economic trends are often reflected in interesting ways by our clients’ requests. This year, we’ve expanded the report to include the top 20 target languages, which we thought may be of interest to some of our Beyond Words readers:

Top 20 Target Languages (2009)


  1. Very Interesting! What is the difference between the Spanish in Lat. Amer. and the US? Can anybody explain that to me? I didn’t know that there is a difference at all.

    • This comment was from a long time ago, but I have no idea if you still care. Based on what I know, United States Spanish is a lot more influenced by English, and has a lot more English loanwords than Latin American Spanish. For example, I think the word for elevator in Latin America is usually ascensor, but in the United States it’s elevador.

  2. Hi Astrid,

    Thanks for reading the blog! To answer your question, both US and Latin American Spanish should, in theory, be generic, non-regional versions of the language, and be completely understandable by all Spanish speakers living in North and South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

    Many clients come to us with translation requests where their material, such as advertising copy, needs to be localized specifically for Spanish speakers living in the US.

    Due to target demographics, this Spanish for US localization is, in many cases, simply Mexican Spanish, while Latin American Spanish is more of the generic Spanish that I described.

  3. Can you advise me what would be the most important foreign language to learn here in USA. Spanish or French?

  4. Margarita Yatsevich,

    Definitely learn Spanish first since it’s probably the 2nd most common language you’ll come across in the USA.

    Once you’re comfortable with Spanish, take up other languages such as French, German, and Portuguese (which are in high demand right now).

  5. Greeting,
    I’m a native Vietnamese speaker and have been working as a linguist/analyst for the past six years while serving in the military. Is/Will Vietnamese be a high demand language? What are some of the companies that are hiring Vietnamese Linguist?
    Many thanks.

  6. I have always had a strong interest in learning Arabic, but am worried that becoming fluent in this language will predispose me only to work in the Middle East. In your experience, how extensive are job opportunities in the US re: Arabic translation?

  7. Hi , it is very interesting this studies as it shows the importance of Spanish in USA, by 2050 half of the population in USA would be bilingual, so there is a huge market for translation :).I understand that Spanish from Spain is not very important on this studies as we represent 10 % of the Spanish speakers in the whole world.Also in Philippines there is small community who stills keeps the Spanish.

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