Language is a complex and fascinating aspect of our lives, without which life would be impossible.
7 facts you probably didn’t know…
There are 2,700 languages with over 7,000 individual dialects spoken around the world today. The most widely spoken languages are Chinese, Spanish, English, and Hindi.
- About 1.051 billion people speak Mandarin Chinese.
- About 490 million people speak Hindi.
- About 420 million people speak Spanish.
- About 510 million people speak English.
Language is thought to have originated circa 100,00 BC. The question of how old language is still being debated, but most linguists agree that it began around the time when modern humans (homo sapiens) evolved in Africa with modern skull shapes and modern vocal chords.
Every two weeks, another language dies. Or, perhaps, not a language but a dialect. There are over 231 completely extinct languages and 2,400 of the world’s languages are considered to be in danger of dying out.
The oldest known languages include Sanskrit, Sumerian, Hebrew, and Basque. But, the only reason we really know this is because there is a written record of those languages. The answer to the question, “What is the oldest language?” can never truly be answered, as it doesn’t take spoken languages with oral traditions into consideration.
Languages are constantly influencing each other. For example, the English language is, in itself, 30% French, as it has adopted words through lexical borrowings.
Nowadays there exists over 200 artificial languages that have been invented for particular, mostly cultural purpose. But “fake” languages date back centuries when languages were invented for the purposes of philosophical debate.
A translator is one of the highly demanded professions in the job market. Language professionals have allowed different countries to communicate, thus resolving important issues or discussing various topics.
Approaching the issue of translation, let’s take a look at some interesting and important moments in the history of translation.
The first appearances of written texts partial translations exist from 2.000 B.C of the Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumerian into Asian languages.
The Rosetta Stone
One of the first written evidence of this process was the Rosetta Stone, where was found a recorded text on Egyptian, hieroglyph, demotic and Greek that served to decipher hieroglyphics different of the period (1799 B.C)
The House of Wisdom to train a translator base
Caliph Al-Mamun built the House of Wisdom to train a translator base, establish terminology, and control translation quality. The right skills flourish best with proper infrastructure and good tools.
Contributions of Geoffrey Chaucer
When returning to England from Italy where he was sent as an ambassador, Geoffrey Chaucer brought back manuscripts of Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio. Geoffrey Chaucer definitely has a major contribution to the fact that his contemporaries got acquainted with the works of the classics.
The first multilingual publishing industry
After millennia of laborious copying, moveable print technology was introduced in the 15th century. It killed off Latin and created the first multilingual publishing industry. 500 years before, block-printing had been used in Asia to print the Chinese translation of the Buddhist Tripitaka.
Contributions of Martin Luther
He was responsible for translating the Bible into German, to expand the sacred writings to others countries.
Today The Bible is the most widely translated book available in 2,454 different languages
Distinguishing three most popular types of translation
The legendary English poet John Dryden promotes the approach in translation theory to distinguish between three types of translation: literal (literally to the text), paraphrased (adhering to the meaning, not the exact wording) and imitation (reconstruction of the text with a creative approach). These formulations originated in Ancient Greece, but Dryden is the one who brings them into the modern theory of translation.
The first great print runs in history
In Europe, Luther’s German translation of the Bible was one of the first great print runs in history. But the explosion of knowledge through printed translation started worrying 17th century Europeans.
The industrial revolution
The industrial revolution created a demand for business documentation, this development created in turn the need to formalize some of the translation specialties
The translation specialties
Since 1940 engineers have been trying to automate the translation process and to aid manual translation mechanically machine translation, machine translation is the process wherein theory a translation is performed by a computer program in reality machine translation if often aided by manual pre and post editing unedited machine translation is a free service available online, this produces a translation which is often sufficient to understand the general idea of the source text, however, such content can be often more humorous than enlightening.
The Nuremberg process marks the beginning of simultaneous translation as a standard in diplomatic conferences. During the process translation in four languages is done.
During World War II, time is essential and this leads to the need for translators with headphones and microphones to work in almost real time.
The electronic computing
The electronic computing arrived in the 1950s, not just a number cruncher but a symbol processor. It promised software solutions to almost every translation automation problem. Translators could finally use machines to do the heavy lifting.
Computer-assisted translation (CAT)
Type of manual translation where a person is assisted by a computer software, this can involve a dictionary or grammar software but it usually refers to a series of specialized translation software such as concordance and translation memory has a professional translator should have a good knowledge of the language he is translating from an excellent knowledge of the language he is translating into he should also be familiar with the subject of the source text.
Translators have made very important contributions to society over the centuries and will continue to break the barriers of language, uniting the world through understanding and communication. Translation has evolved along with technology and can be used in many interesting forms and situations in modern day life. Lives, jobs, and career paths are formed around the need for translation services.
This article is originally posted on our global translation blog Agato Legal Translation blog, we try to share with our audience in New Zealand every piece of knowledge that we believe it’s useful and informative. Happy reading!
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