The History of Translation

By Atlas LS

Translation History

The word “translation” is the process of rendering written communication from one language into another. The history of translation is often a topic of debate amongst historians because the origins are generally unknown. As time has gone on, translation has become widely used and modernized. Read on as we journey through the past, present, and future of language translation.

history books - the history of translations

Early Translations

When it comes to the history of translation, historians cannot pinpoint when translation exactly began other than they predict it’s over 2,000 years ago. One of the more popular theories was that the first translation started with “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” a poem written in Sumerian then translated into different Asian languages. The most significant translation history known today is the translation of the Bible into almost every language known to man.

Modernizing Translation

Languages were being documented through written texts, but it was the printing press that largely impacted the history of translation. With the printing press producing books faster and more accurately, reading and literacy also increased and so did the need for translation. During the industrial revolution, machines that could mass produce text made it easier for businesses to enter the foreign market. This created a demand for translation services to assist with trades, banking, education and many other outlets.

Fast forward to the 20th century where a new discipline was called “Translation Discipline.” This was also the start of translation becoming a part of academic institutions that can be studied. A paper written in 1972 by James S. Holmes, a poet and translator, called “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies” became the foundation of the new discipline. As this practice grew, the ability to translate languages became an international phenomena. Conference interpreting, also known as conference translation, is translation of one language to another in real time. This has now become the norm in all types of translations such as legal translation, political, medical, business, education, finance, tourism and so much more.

Future of Translation

With the help of famous translators around the world, translation has grown in efficiency and speed. Modern inventions like  MT (machine translation) and CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools have increased in popularity as they offer quick and cost-effective results. Translation is now accessible within our fingertips with services, like Google Translate, and the internet provides an abundance of resources for instant translations at any hour of the day. But, while machine translations have come a long way in recent years, human translators are still more reliable and accurate. For business meetings and conference translations, it is best to work with a professional translation company to avoid costly translation mistakes.

Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) is a newer technology in the translation industry and it is done through a cloud-based platform. This type of translation service eliminates the need to have translators on-site and is a cost-effective solution to in-person simultaneous interpretation services.

With the rise in social media platforms, smart devices and communication apps, the art of translation will continue to evolve and connect more and more people to each other. Atlas Language Services can help with your conference interpretation, legal translation, RSI, and translation equipment rental needs. Contact us today to learn more!