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What Is the History of Translation?

By Elodie Charvet, Lingolet Team

What Is the History of Translation?

Through the ages, translation, and translators were there to help societies around the globe move forward.

The Western World regards the Bible translation from Hebrew to Greek as the first translation work of great importance.

During the 5th century onwards, very few translations of works in the Latin language were available in common languages because Latin was the popular language.

During the 13th century, Roger Bacon, an English linguist, determined that a translator must be fully knowledgeable in the source and target languages to be able to produce an accurate translation. At the same time, he already established that the translator should also be a subject matter expert. That’s how old the concept is.

In the 14th century, the first translation of the Bible from Latin to English was done by John Wycliffe.

The advancement in the printing process and the growth of the middle class during the 16th century further developed translation as the demand for new literary materials increased.

Several other translations of the Bible were done during the 16th century, making the Holy Book available in Slovene, Spanish, French, and Dutch. Being one of the most translated and read books of the time, the Bible translations helped develop the modern languages in Europe.

Accuracy was not yet a big issue for the translators. If they thought a passage might cause boredom or they failed to understand a part, they omitted them. They had the false impression that their translation style is the most proper wherein the source material should conform to their translation. They were even bold enough to do translations into languages they barely speak.

It was only at the beginning of the industrial revolution that translation was centered on the meaning of the words and the context.

Translation became more prominent and structured in the 20th century. It includes various subjects, such as terminology, semiotics, philosophy, philology, linguistics, history, computer science, and comparative literature. It requires students to choose their specialty, in order to receive proper training either in literary, scientific, technical, economic, or legal translation.

In 2018, the global language services, which include translation, are estimated to reach US $46.52 billion and have the potential to grow bigger in the coming years.


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