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Translation Services 2 Dec 2019

Riff, Resolve, Repeat0

The word translation is a Latin term, meaning to “bring or carry across.” The Bible spoke of different languages across geographic areas, giving rise to multiple tongues and an eventual necessity to interpret said tongues to find a way to facilitate communication across people. Historical records show translation taking place as early as the Mesopotamian era when Gilgamesh (a Sumerian poem) was translated into multiple Asian languages. The time period we’re talking here is the second millennium BC … rather early. Buddhist monks then jumped into the translation game, interpreting texts from Indian documents and translating them into Chinese. Later, ancient Greek texts were translated by Roman scribes, and so on and so on and so on.

While it is crystal clear translation has been occurring since the beginning of time, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the needs for professional translation services came into play. Conferences, exchanges, large speaker talks across nations and continents began to flourish. Air travel played a large part, but that was only regarding in-person events. Translation as we well know is big business in terms of texts and audio recordings as well.

Getting back to the in-person events, demand began to rise for individuals who could simultaneously translate, in real-time, what someone was saying in one language and communicate it orally to another person. The verbal dexterity needed for such a feat was and still is quite impressive. The good translators, the great translators, work for big agencies like the World Bank or the United Nations. If they command more than one language, heck, that’s even better!

If you want to get some text translated in 2019, most agencies will use translation software in conjunction with human beings to work on your text. This is much cheaper than going with a human being, but the software is not perfect. While it can get a translation 70% or sometimes even 85% of the way, the remainder typically needs to be smoothed out by someone. Google Translate is one of the best software packages out there, and its flaws are still notable. Second, put your needs first when it comes to translations. If you have a very technical paper, that won’t be handled in the same manner as say a term paper. Don’t simply turn over a document to a translator without he or she understanding the context. A term paper translated in technical language will get you nowhere.

Third is speed. There are massive translation agencies that work on speed alone. The reason why – people want stuff quickly. Of course, this isn’t always ideal as quality can be compromised with a one-sided request to have the job done as quick as possible. Inquire as to standard turnaround times when you first encounter an agency. They will give you a benchmark and you can then decide if that is reasonable or not.

And finally, many translation services offer more than just translation. Desktop publishing, subject-matter experts, larger agencies offer a range of ancillary services that are attractive but not necessarily advertised. Translation isn’t simply communicating a word into another word. There are nuances, keep that in mind and choose accordingly.


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