Translation is a hugely important aspect of modern day society. Translation has been apparent since the earliest days of human interaction, playing a vital role in breaking down cultural divides. It now seeps into many aspects of the way we live, from internet shopping to the world of work. However, it is easy to forget the significance of translation and its importance until we are faced with a situation where it is unavailable. For example, being unable to access information about a product in a supermarket in our native language. This has become a societal norm.
The demand for translation services is continuing to evolve on a rapid scale. It helps to break down communication barriers and unites the world of business and trade, especially in an age of internet and digital connectivity. The process of translation has gone through a complex journey since it was first utilised and is now seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives.
Where did it all begin?
The word ‘translation’ comes from a Latin term ‘translatio’, which simply means, “to bring or carry across”. From this fact alone, it is clear that the need for translation has been prevalent for an extremely long time, dating back to long before we remember! Translation actually pre-dates the bible and was first introduced as a way to overcome communication barriers and geographic differences for the purpose of trade.
The emergence of several language groups over a large geographic spread led to arising problems in communication. Business and trade became impossible due to a lack of communication methods; therefore, a new system was necessary to overcome this barrier, leading to the introduction of translation and interpretation.
Its popularity rose as it became increasingly more useful in other areas – specifically religious and Ancient Greek texts. Religion has played a particularly important role in the development of translation. As religion advanced and became more popular, religious texts needed to be available in multiple languages in order to spread its important message and encourage faith.
It is widely known that one of the first translated religious texts in the Western world was the Old Testament, translated from the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in the 3rd century BCE. This marked a revolution for the use of translation as it proved to be a well-needed tool for overcoming communication barriers and instigated long-term use in various other areas.
Fast-forwarding a significant number of years, the rise of translation services also went hand-in-hand with the growth of the Industrial Revolution. As the economy rapidly evolved during this time, new business opportunities for expansion and global success intensified on a fast-paced scale. The creation of new machinery opened up an entire new opportunity in the business industry for more investment into global expansion.
In order to grow and enter foreign markets, business related materials needed to be translated to suit various audiences, leading to an increased need for translation services. Investment into translation enabled significant improvements to its processes, bringing it up-to-date and modernised from its previous uses for religious and Ancient Greek texts.
Modern day translation
Translation services have developed further with the rise of the internet and digital technology. With continuous international business expansion, several industries acknowledge the need to communicate with foreign markets – something that could not possibly happen without the use of translation services. From marketing materials to product information, it seems plausible to suggest that the only way to succeed in today’s society is by targeting wider audiences and understanding different cultures.
It’s also important to consider how translation services have expanded to a broad range of uses. Although its original formation was developed for the purpose of business and trade, translation is now paramount in aspects such as the workplace and tourism. Any business striving for a diverse workforce must accommodate for those who speak a different native language. Without translation, communicating important aspects of the workplace such as health and safety instructions and the company’s rules could become a particularly difficult task.
Similarly, translation services have become an essential aspect of tourism. From a tourist’s aspect, it’s imperative to comfortably enjoy time in another country, with language challenges such as directions and menu reading being that little bit easier with translation and technology. Despite its beginnings, translation services no longer serve only business and trade purposes. It’s important to recognise how many different industries and areas are enhanced by using translation.
Modern technology greatly enhances the capabilities of translation to fit human needs in a fast-paced, digital society. Formerly, it was literal word-for-word translation, however translation services have adapted to innovative systems, using software such as machine translation to translate several languages in one go.