As translations and interpretations have become so popular in recent times, it has given rise to various specialized areas of services to accommodate the needs of clients from all types of industries. Though the field has experienced a boom in recent times, translations are nothing new in the scheme of old professions. Throughout history, linguists have left their mark in the cultural and religious worlds; with some translations dating back to the second millennium BC! To understand how the modern translator thrives in today’s society, we must take a look at the history of translations in ancient times.

Earliest record of linguists and their translation works

Although the notion of a translator or interpreter may seem relatively new, this profession has been around for many centuries. The field of linguistics has been prevalent since ancient times, where linguists often occupied crucial roles in society. The translation methods practiced by linguists during these times are no different from today’s standards. The idea of adapting a text from one language to another has not changed in the trade since ancient times. For many years, Roman scholars were employed by Roman aristocrats to translate ancient Greek literary works for the purposes of entertainment. To this day, one of the most notable accounts of ancient translations dates back to the 3rd century BC, where linguists were tasked with the translation of the Holy Bible from Hebrew to Greek. This religious movement would soon expand throughout Europe, giving rise to the demand of biblical translations into European languages. Religion, among many others, will play a huge role in further perpetuating the need for linguists with the translation of ancient texts throughout history.

The accuracy of translations in the ancient world

In today’s modern world, the field of linguistics has expanded greatly since ancient times. Modern translators have access to the necessary tools and advancements in technology to produce the utmost accurate rendering of a text. Furthermore, their knowledge of linguistics will often encompass a cultural understanding that exists behind every language group. So, when reviewing some of the world’s oldest literature translations, we begin to question the accuracy of the works produced by our predecessors. Ancient translators were adept in their mother tongue, and had a strong grasp of a secondary language. A prime example was the early adaptation of the Bible, where numerous translators worked individually to produce the same translation of the biblical text. They were able to achieve a cohesive translation that would mimic the works of a single translator working on the literature. This crucial piece of evidence verifies that the translations performed by ancient linguists were quite accurate, even for ancient standards.

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How has history changed the way we conduct translations today?

Early contributions made by ancient linguists has paved the way for a thriving translation industry today. The notion of adapting a given text from one language to another remains consistent even by our modern definition of a translation service. However, our approach to translations has evolved since the ancient times, as a far greater offering of diverse language combinations are available to clients from around the world. Advancements in technology has opened a completely new approach to translating texts and documents. Machine generated translation tools, such as Google Translate, is widely available to all users from around the world—making translations accessible for any social situation. Though this form of translation is more for convenience rather than complete accuracy, technological advancements in linguistics has made it possible to generate a translation in a matter of minutes.

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