Language Translation in history: How it changed the world.

As a translation company we’re well aware of the need to provide high-quality language translation services to our clients. We’ve worked on all kinds of subject areas, and into a multitude of languages. What we often don’t think about however, is the effect of sharing knowledge between cultures. As well as the wealth of new information that has been spread across linguistic boundaries thanks to the translation process. So just how important are translations to unlocking the secrets of a culture? Has translation really managed to shape the world as we know it?

Religion and language

A good starting point to broach this subject would be the translations of religious scriptures. Throughout history, translated religious texts have allowed for religion to spread across linguistic boundaries and across the world. Take the Qur’an for example. Originally the Qur’an was written in Arabic, and its contents were available only to those who could read the language. As translators worked on the scriptures, they made them accessible to people from other cultures. This allowed for the spread of Islam to people in other cultures speaking different languages.

The same can be said for the spread of western Christianity. Our very own Saint of Translation, St. Jerome, was the first to translate the bible into Latin in the 4th Century. The political power of Latin at the time of the Romans opened the bible up to a much wider audience. Where the Romans went, Christianity seemed to follow.

bible

Since then, the bible has been translated in full into 450 different languages in full, and in sections into over 2000 languages. This has allowed the Christian faith to become completely accessible to people all across the planet. The effects that biblical translation has had on culture and society as a whole are obvious. Without these translations the Christian church may not have been able to dominate religion in Western society in the same way as it does today.

These days, language translation is a booming industry with cultural all kinds of texts are translated into all kinds of languages. The Harry Potter series for example has so far been translated into 67 different languages from across the globe, with that number increasing by the year. But do translations still have the same cultural significance as they did in the days of St. Jerome? What do you think?

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