6 Historical Wonders of Translation

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

Since the beginning of time people have had the desire to connect and understand each other. Not everyone speaks the same language, but everyone understands their native language. Translation emerged from this longing for knowledge. Here are the 6 best historical wonders of translation:

(1) The Bible, the World’s Most Translated Book


Translation is present in the Bible from the beginning, from the time it was written. This set of books was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and compiled later in Greek in the call Septuagint or LXX.

In 382 AD it was translated into Latin by Jerónimo de Estridón. This work, which is known as the Vulgate , was considered the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church until 1979.

In 1384 it was translated into English by the Oxford academic John Wycliffe and in 1569 to Spanish by the theologian Casiodoro de Reina.

Since then it has been translated into 2454 languages ​​ all over the world and has been of vital importance in the process of development and evolution to many of them.

2) The Rosetta Stone and Hieroglyphics


In 1799 Pierre-François Bouchard , during the campaign of Napoleon in Egypt, found a fragment of stone with text recorded in three languages: Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic script, and ancient Greek. Its content was a decree issued by the Pharaoh Ptolemy V in 196 BC, being one of the oldest translated texts we know so far. In addition, until its discovery it had not been possible to decipher the enigma of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. This was made possible in 1822 by the Egyptologist and philologist Jean François Champollion, thanks to the comparison with the other two languages ​​inscribed on it.

(3) The First Known Translator


Lucio Livio Andrónico (284 a. – 204 a.), Was a Roman slave of Greek origin. His employer entrusted him with the task of educating his children in Greek and Latin, a task through which he managed to earn his freedom and adopt a Roman name.

After being released he had the opportunity to carry out his work. He conducted among others the translation of the Odyssey of Homer . That made him the first known name of the history of Roman literature, as well as the first known translator .

(4) The Printing Press: The First Translation Boom


From very remote antiquity, different artisan and rudimentary printing methods already existed in diverse cultures. It was about 1450 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This event revolutionized the world of writing generating a high demand for translations, due to the increase in the distribution of all kinds of books and documents. Knowledge and culture began to be a common among the people and they wanted to understand works written in other languages.

(5) Colón, the Americas and Sworn Interpreters


The work of translators and interpreters played a pivotal role during the process of the colonization of America. His work was essential to enable communication and commercial relations between Europeans and Native Americans. Moreover settlers were aware of the importance of training experts and reliable interpreters to enable communication with the Indigenous inhabitants. It was then, in 1563, when he appeared for the first time the concept “interpreters who swear”, naming these experts in languages formed and supported by the authorities.

(6) The First Female Interpreter Known in History


Sacajawea was an Indigenous woman of the Shoshone tribe. After being taken prisoner from a rival tribe, she was taken as a wife by the French-Canadian traveler Toussaint Charbonneau.

in 1804 explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark performed their famous expedition to the West of North America. To do this, they needed the help of guides and interpreters who understood the language and geography of the region, so they met with natives from the area. There they met Sacajawea and her husband Toussaint, who accompanied them in this hard journey through unknown territories and made it easier for them to facilitate communication with the locals.

What does it mean nowadays?

Translation unites people from all over. It has paved the way for a global economy and created interactive relationships, making significant advances in technology and politics possible.

“If you speak to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his language, that goes to his heart. ” – Nelson Mandela

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