A History of Translation and its Place in the Modern World

  • Content & PR team - MBAtious


    Language is one of the most important developments in human history. While language is great for sharing information and expressing ideas, differences in language can act as a barrier to these goals. This is why translation has also played a critical role in human history.
    With so many languages in use throughout the world, translation helps to bring people together. In a modern world of global communications and trade, professional translation agencies are taking on a greater role in a wider range of interactions.

    A Short History of Language and Translation

    Before words, humans used signs, symbols, and gestures to communicate. Over time, people started using sounds to represent different objects, places, and actions. The development of words led to the development of sentences. Eventually, people were able to express complex ideas, tell stories, and have conversations.

    After the advent of spoken language, populations began to expand and grow apart. With the separation of different groups of people, different languages began to develop among them. As people of different languages came into contact with each other, humans found the need for translations. Some of the earliest examples are of Sumerian texts being translated into languages of Southwest Asia.

    There are also examples of translations that have been historically significant. The Rosetta Stone is perhaps the most famous and was an ancient translation of the same text in Greek, Demotic, and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Through this artifact, 19th Century scholars were able to learn the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

    The translation of religious texts has played a significant part in shaping modern culture. One example is the Vulgate, a 4th Century translation of the Hebrew Bible from Hebrew to Latin. Fast forward to the 16th Century, and you see some of the first examples of the Bible being translated into modern European languages like German and English.

    Translation in the Modern Day

    Translation has had a significant impact on the shaping of culture, and the job of the professional translator is nothing new. Governments, businesses and religious groups have used the services of interpreters for centuries.

    Due to the fact that translation is a specialized skill and because of the great effort that goes into conducting translations, people have been looking for ways to ease the process. As early as the 1950s, researchers at Georgetown were experimenting with machine translations. As computing power grew and became more accessible, the capabilities of machine translation grew as well.

    While machine translations still can’t take the place of the professional human translator, you do have automated services that can provide instant translations for some simple purposes. Additionally, machine translation has developed in a way that has provided the modern translator with a set of tools that can simplify and speed up the process.

    The Professional Translator of the 21st Century

    The profession of translation has evolved alongside modern technology. With the internet, global trade, and digital communications, translators play a vital role in a wide variety of industries. While you still have translators who work in a more generalized way, you also have several career paths for specialized translations. This could include fields like medical translations, the translation of legal documents, and translators that specialize in scientific research.

    Translation has come a long way from when it was just two groups of people trying to understand each other. Now you have professional translation companies that use modern technology to provide clients with fast, accurate translations in a multitude of different languages across industry verticals.

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