Translation is a hugely important aspect of modern-day society. Translation has existed since the earliest days of human interaction, playing a vital role in breaking down cultural barriers. It now penetrates 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 evolving rapidly. It helps to break down communication barriers and unites the worlds 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 used, and is now seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives.
Where did it all begin?
The word ‘translation’ comes from a Latin term ‘translation’, 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 area brought about 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 their 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 necessary tool for overcoming communication barriers and brought about long-term use in several 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 at a rapid rate. The creation of new machinery opened up an entire new business opportunity for more investment in global expansion.
In order to grow and enter foreign markets, business-related materials needed to be translated to suit a variety of audiences, leading to an increased need for translation services. Investment in translation enabled significant improvements to its processes, updating and modernizing it from its previous uses for religious and Ancient Greek texts.
Translation services have developed further with the rise of the internet and digital technology. With continuous international business expansion, many industries came to recognize 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 could be said 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 cover a broad range of needs. Although it was originally 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 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 point of view, it is important to be able to enjoy time in another country, with translation and technology helping to ease language challenges such as getting directions and reading a menu. Despite its beginnings, translation services no longer serve only business and trade purposes. It’s important to recognize how many different industries and areas are enhanced through the use of translation.
Modern technology greatly enhances the capabilities of translation to meet human needs in a fast-paced, digital society. Formerly, it was literal word-for-word translation; however, translation services have adapted to the use of innovative systems, using software such as machine translation to translate several languages at a time.