Translation is truly an art. When done well, it brings text to life in another language and nothing is “lost in translation”. So, in honor of International Translation Day, we decided to share a few interesting facts about the world of translation:

  • There are more than 7,000,000 people in the world who speak close to 7,000 languages.
  • The word “translation” is derived from Latin for “the carrying from one place to another.”
  • As of 2014, there were 330,000 professional translators in the world, a figure which is swiftly expanding!
  • A translator’s average yearly output amounts to somewhere in between 300,000 and 1,000,000 words.
  • Spain translates more books per year than have ever been translated into Arabic.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, 78% of all books were translated into French or German.
  • At the 2014 Winter Olympics there were over 1,000 interpreters on-site to assist athletes and attendees.
  • The most translated book is the Bible. No wonder why St. Jerome’s Day, the Saint who struggled to render the Word of God into Latin, has been chosen as the International Translation Day.
  • Pinocchio, which was originally written in Italian, comes in second and has been translated in over 240 languages. Would The Little Prince or Harry Potter’s saga ever match that?
  • Initially written in English, French and Spanish, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into 438 languages. That means there are some 6,500 languages left to go. Let’s not give up!
  • The UNESCO Index Translationum states the most translated fiction authors are Agatha Christie, Jules Verne, and William Shakespeare.
  • Upon reading the English translation of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” author Gabriel Garcia Marquez felt it was better than what he wrote in Spanish.
  • Vladimir Nabokov believed that translation would destroy the splendor of an original work. To prove his point, he attempted a word-for-word translation, with comical results. Thankfully, translators do not use this method today; otherwise, we would miss out on many great works of literature.
  • Only 5 % of books each year are translated into Chinese leaving many translations for the Chinese market in English, not Chinese.
  • English for the International Market is known as “World English.”

In 2015, the top 16 translated languages are:

  1. German
  2. French
  3. Japanese
  4. English (US)
  5. Chinese
  6. Spanish (Spain)
  7. Italian
  8. Spanish (US)
  9. Korean
  10. Portuguese
  11. Spanish (LATAM)
  12. French (Canada)
  13. Dutch
  14. Polish
  15. English (UK)
  16. Russian

Translation is an art which has existed since ancient times. As languages evolve, translators must keep honing their craft to stay up to date. And as with any art form, there are misconceptions that take place.

  • Being bilingual makes someone a good translator. While this is a good starting point, like any profession, there is a course of study that brings success and proficiency.
  • Although translators and interpreters may be adept in two languages that does not mean they can translate anything and everything. Just like a physician, professional translators also have specialties. Some can translate highly technical documents, while others cannot.
  • Translation is simple. In a nutshell, it is not. They must be capable of selecting which words and/or phrases will give the correct tone, meaning and intention from the original.
  • Machine Translation is just as good as any human. There is no machine translation on the market that can translate as accurately as a person.
  • Anything can be translated. Not necessarily. The only way to receive a high-quality translation is to provide a high-quality source file. Giving the translator the best tools possible is the only way to guarantee success.

Please visit our website to learn more about how we ensure our clients high quality translations.