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10 Translation Facts on International Translation Day You Need to know

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The translation is mesmerizing for those people who have a love of language. Not every person shows a keen interest in learning a language beyond their native tongue, even though most people are bilingual. Languages can be ironic in a way; they let you learn a different way of life, open minds to new ideologies and perspectives. People who choose a language as their professional careers become translators. One may think they don't have a huge impact on the business world, but surprisingly translators are the savior for global businesses.

Not only translation has saved many companies from becoming a tragic history like the Titanic, but also let them explore new target audiences. To celebrate the efforts and the role-play of translation, an International Translation Day was established in 1991 by the Federation Internationale des Traducteurs (International Federation of Translators). 

Interesting Facts about Translation

The FIT is an international conglomeration of associations. It represents the translators, interpreters, and terminologists all over the world.

Translation Day celebrations are not only meant for translators; anyone can celebrate it. It's like any other celebration day, and all you need is a good excuse to be happy every other day.

30th September is not so far, and with that, let's begin the day by feasting on much-needed information about the International Translation Day.

1: Patron Saint of Translation

St. Jerome translated the bible into Latin, which took 23 years from his lifetime. He was quite proficient in Greek and Latin, so when he moved to Jerusalem, he also learned all he could about Hebrew and translated the bible into Hebrew as well.

However, he did make one mistake in his Hebrew translation. This monumental error led to several images of Moses showing with horns (radiance word was pronounced wrongfully).

2: Man Paralyzed Because of One Translation.

The Cuban-American baseball star, Willie Ramirez was rushed to the hospital when he underwent severe headaches. He slipped in and out of consciousness, believed to have food poisoning. Unfortunately because of one mistranslation of a Cuban Spanish term, intoxicado as intoxicated, he was treated for a drug overdose. This led to severe consequences of a brain hemorrhage, caused him paralysis. Hospital had to settle over a $71 million lawsuit. 

3: Jehovah’s Witness Website

Bible is one of the most translated books said to be available in 500+ languages. But guess what? The Jehovah’s Witness Website is translated in more languages than the bible itself. Let's say the website is translated in 600 plus languages that include Congolese sign language and other several dialects of Swahili and Thai too. Even harry potter couldn’t compete with the number of translation either as it was translated in 70 languages only.

4: Google Translate and Mystery Novels

Machine translation is not as new as some might think. It begins back in the 1940s during the world war. Currently, Google Translate is the most common machine translation, which often results in a silly version of the translation. A lack of accuracy in translation is often frustrating as machines are unable to detect cultural references and slangs.

The software used for machine translation reads a large amount of translated materials and finds the patterns. Usually, it includes UN and EU documents but also a large number of mystery novels too. Interesting, right?

5: Google and Mystery are Fond of Each Other.

The French science fiction pioneer Jules Verne, Agatha Christie is well known translated authors of their time. Do you remember the English writer who wrote Poirot and Miss Marple? These are the most translated books you will find even online.

Besides these, even the great author William Shakespeare’s work has also been revived in various other languages.

6: German for UNESCO’s Database Book

UNESCO is a worldwide platform. Its Index Translatorium Book translation database is mostly translated into one popular language. Therefore, if you ask about the target language of UNESCO'S translation database, it is German (target language), followed by French, Japanese, Spanish, and English (source language).

Although English is the lingua franca, French, German, Russian, and Italian are its predecessors in the language world.

7: Translation Industry Keeps Growing

Globalization converted the world into a global village.  According to the recent estimate, the translation industry is said to be at least $40 billion in worth!

Imagine a total of 330,000 translators are working from various corners of the world, translating, interpreting, and localizing the content for various business setups. Now brands have more windows of opportunity for them than ever which has led to the predicted growth of $45 billion for 2020!

8: President Translated Shakespeare into Swahili.

Swahili, a Bantu language, is the native tongue of Tanzania, spoken by 98 million people. The first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, translated the works of Shakespeare into Swahili. Similarly, there are many other writers like Javier Marias, Haruki Murakami, and Vladimir Nabokov, who translated English works in their languages.

Let's say that Shakespeare and his acclaimed work is well credited around the world among other famous authors.

9: As Old as a Thousand Years

Did you know that the first known translation took place back in 2100 BC?

The Sumerian epic The Epic of Gilgamesh is said to be the first translation that was ever done. The manuscript is as old as 195,000 years. It shows signs of interpretation and translation long before the printing machine was even invented.

10: Panic about Nuclear War

The ironic thing about mistranslation is that it can cause a riot within a second. In 1956 when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev told the western dignitaries "we will bury you" it led to the mistranslated context that meant he meant to destroy the West.

This heightened the already existing tension during the Cold War. Although Khrushchev all but made a Marxist reference. It was a simple case of a failed interpretation.


That was ironically interesting, wasn't it? These facts highlight the importance of translation a lot. If a translation goes wrong, it will lead to disastrous results. However, some "blunders" can cost you a lot or in some cases cause war!