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Translation through History

Translation through history

Excellence in translation and endeavors to embrace technology and process are nothing new. The struggle of advancing and empowering people has been part of our translation heritage. There is a long history to our industry today

Translation has provided some important milestones in human history. Here are just a few.

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  • In the 3rd century BCE, the Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus commissioned a translation of the Old Testament from Biblical Hebrew into Greek for the Library of Alexandria. The project is one of the earliest proofs that consistency and accuracy in translation of highly valued documents were considered important right from the beginning - and that translators were required to work to tight deadlines! The Septuagint (from the Latin Interpretatio septuaginta virorum) "translation by the seventy interpreters" - as it became known - was completed in 72 days by 72 translators.
  • 9th-13th Century Baghdad was the intellectual capital of the world. The House of Wisdom - a Library and Translation Institute for humanities and scientific information - was established by Mamum al-Rashid as a center of excellence in translation. Efforts to bring together well known scholars worldwide and create repositories of rich translation and terminology, were a precursor to today’s best practices in translation.
  • When Dante Alighieri (1265 –1321) wrote the Divine Comedy, he created a language he called "Italian", an amalgamated literary language based on the regional dialect of Tuscany, with some elements of other regional dialects and Latin.
    Dante was among the first (including Chaucer and Boccaccio) to break free from publishing in only Latin, reach a wider audience - setting the stage for greater levels of literacy.
  • When William Tyndale (1494 – 1536) translated the scriptures from Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Latin sources and Anglo Saxon, he created not simply an "English" for the "plough boy" but a memorable and poetic new English language. His language saved English from extinction, and would influence and permeate religion, history, politics and literature. Tyndale created a vast granary of rich and poetic English that would develop into a prime language of the world.
  • In 1534, Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible became one of the first major print runs in history Luther’s translation into the language of the people (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, creating a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation and influenced the translation into English of the King James Bible.

Winning strategies through history

  • 196 BC - The Rosetta Stone is one of the finest examples of a parallel corpus or translation memory of a decree by King Ptolemy V in Egyption hieroglyphs, Ancient Greek and demotic script. The Rosetta Stone provides modern understanding of Egyption hieroglyphs
  • Translation into Chinese of Buddhist scriptures started in 140 CE. Block printing in the late 10th century China of the translation of the complete Buddhist canon Tripitaka,130,000 pages, hailed the dawn of multilingual publishing. Tools to store and print language hailed the potential of language to reach and influence the world.