17 Fascinating Facts About Translation and Languages

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Language and Translation play a significant role in human communication. Language is considered one of the most complex communication tools elaborated by humankind throughout the centuries. Besides linguistic features such as grammar, syntax, and lexis, each language has its unique cultural specifics and realia that make proper intercultural communication almost impossible without language specialists — translators.  

 

Translation services significantly break the language barriers and connect cultures across the globe. As a professional translation company that offers high-quality translation services, we know the importance of qualified translators and accurate translations. 

 

Various intriguing facts about language and translation go unnoticed in the diverse linguistic world. Therefore, we have tried to collect some interesting facts for you to know about the languages and translation and show how you can benefit from it. 

 

1. There are around 7000 languages in the world which together represent the diversity of human culture and communication. Language is considered to be about 200,000 years old. However, with advancements in technology, translation has become more modern.   

 

2. Translation is derived from the Latin word ‘translationis’ which means ‘transporting or transferring something’. Fitting to describe a field of work where the aim is to transfer meaning from one language to another.  

 

3. Currently, there are over 7000 languages on the Earth, but the majority of the world’s population speaks only 23 languages. Depending on your mother tongue and its relation to a language group, it can be harder to learn some languages than others. Therefore, it is difficult to identify which language is the most complex in the world. However, if we assume the English language as the starting point, according to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) the most difficult languages to learn for the English speakers are: Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

 

4. The chosen languages for translation are French, Spanish, German, and Japanese. The most sought-after translation languages are English, French, German, Italian, and Russian. According to researchers, and most professional translators, Spanish is the easiest language to translate.

 

5. It has been stated that a professional translator can translate around 250 words within an hour. A translator working full-time can translate around 520,000 words per year. 

 

6. Translation is considered one of the most important fields of study and profession. It is estimated that there are around 640,000 translators worldwide (plus many more who don’t do it professionally). That’s a very small percentage of the world’s population! About 0.0000091% to be precise. A small group of talented individuals.

 

7. Translators are known for inventing alphabets, the precious tools that allow us to share our knowledge.

 

8. The English language has over 250,000 words, that’s a lot of words to know if you have to translate into or out of English! Which means the average person knows approximately 10-20,000 words.

 

9. There is a set of qualifications and techniques demanded from a translator in order to meet the standards of quality and uniqueness. It has already been proved that it is not enough to know the languages and to be able to apply modern technologies used for translation. Translation is an intuitive process that is based on a translator’s creative capability.  

 

10. Translators play a key role in providing access to foreign literature. Portuguese writer José Saramago, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, expressed this reality so well when he said, “Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature”.   

 

11. The most translated literary work in the history of humanity is the Bible which was translated into 2932 languages. However, if we talk about the most translated document, it is a six-page Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed by the United Nations in 1948. It was translated into 370 languages and dialects.   

 

12. There is a system that is used as a specific language named after handicapped child Braille, who created a new way of reading & writing and designed six dots in which combinations of dots and spaces represented letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Today this system is very popular. There is a Braille Code for almost every foreign language existing in the world. Even math, computer science, and music all have their own unique Braille systems.       

 

13. The most powerful form of communication for a deaf community is sign language. The sign languages are as complicated and unique as the other spoken languages. Also, the grammar and vocabulary for different sign languages vary too. E.g. American sign language has different grammar and vocabulary than English. 


14. Dialects represent differing regional and social linguistic variations. In many countries, dialects vary to a level that they are often considered separate languages. For example, Chinese has various complicated dialects, while Mandarin and Cantonese remain the most famous ones. 

 

Facts you didn’t know about Translation 

 

15. Obviously English is the most popular language on the web. Almost 52% of all content on the internet is produced in the English language. However, another half of global content is not. The following information is valuable for online businesses willing to expand to foreign markets. So, if you want to grow your client base, consider translating your online store, business website, application, marketing content, and other business documents into these languages:

 

English (948,608,782 Internet Users)26.3%

Chinese (751,985,224 Internet Users)20.8%

Spanish (277,125,947 Internet Users)7.7%

Arabic (168,426,690 Internet Users)4.7%

Portuguese (154,525,606 Internet Users)4.3%

Japanese (115,111,595 Internet Users)3.2%

Malay (109,400,982 Internet Users)3.0%

Russian (103,147,691 Internet Users)2.9%

French (102,171,481 Internet Users)2.8

German (83,825,134 Internet Users) 2.3%

 

The situation is a bit different when calculations are based on the amount of content available in certain languages. Top 10 popular languages on the web (as of March 2017) with the largest number of websites using those languages are:

 

English 51.6%

Russian 6.6%

Japanese 5.6%

German 5.6%

Spanish 5.1%

French 4.1%

Portuguese 2.6%

Italian 2.3%

Chinese 2.0%

Polish 1.7%

 

 

16. According to marketing statistics, people tend to purchase products and services if information about them is available in their native language. Therefore, language translation and localization services will help you to go global. To keep pace with the leaders you can translate your business into several languages having the greatest potential. Fortunately, you don’t need to make wild guesses. Just use the data provided by Common Sense Advisory. Here are ten language pairs that are of the highest demand in the translation and localization market:

 

English > Spanish

English > Chinese

English > French

English > German

English > Russian

English > Portuguese

English > Japanese

English > Arabic

English > Italian

Spanish > Portuguese 

 

17. If you are an investor looking for the best value for money, the translation industry might be one of the investment options. According to GALA (Globalization and Localization Association), the size of the overall language industry was estimated at USD 40 billion in 2016 with the potential to reach USD 45 billion by 2020. The anticipated annual growth rate is 6.5-7.5% through 2018. 

 

Conclusion

 

Translations and translated texts are everywhere. Language and translation play an integral role in today’s globalized world. You may simply never think of those easy things, but these are words that hit your goals. So, next time you’re reading something, think about how many languages it’s been translated into already, or perhaps what the original text might have looked like.