30 October 2022

World Translation Day: what do we expect from modern-day translations?


On the occasion of World Translation Day, which, as every year, falls on September 30, we thought we would share with you some thoughts on how the “way of doing translation” has changed over the years, thanks to the external components that have intervened.

Why does World Translation Day exist?

In 406 the “Vulgate,” the first translation of the Bible made the Christian monk St. Jerome the first translator in history, as well as the patron saint of all the generations of translators that followed over the years.

The peculiarity in St. Jerome’s writing of Scripture, praised by some and criticized by others: the translation did not precisely match the original Hebrew version to the letter. The reason? The Roman monk’s preference was to “communicate the sense of the original text” rather than individual words.

Word for word or sense for sense?

It often happens even for modern languages to come across terms and/or idioms that when translated literally make no sense. An example? The English version of “it’s pouring rain” is “it ‘s raining cats and dogs” (literally “it’s raining cats and dogs,” which clearly makes no sense in Italian). A centuries-long debate that still has not found an unambiguous resolution.

It should be added, however, that translation preference is also related to the type of text: an economic text will be more likely to require a word-for-word translation, while a literary article will necessarily need a “looser” rendering. This is why it is essential to rely on professionals in the field who know what they are doing and the needs of each text type.

From paper dictionaries to digital

The advent of technology has impacted all areas that were once purely paper-based; not the least of which is translation. As much as paper dictionaries are in fact still valuable material for anyone working with languages, due to their sometimes technical and sectoral nature not easily found on the Web, it is also true that languages are practically constantly evolving. A printed, printed and consequently “static” vocabulary is therefore unable to keep up with the times when used alone.

Thus, online encyclopedias and dictionaries, which are easily retraceable on the Internet and certainly more timely in the research phase, have become increasingly popular. Although they are often not as accurate as paper ones, the main advantage of this type of vocabulary is to be found in being “
up to date
“, that is, up to date. Therefore, it will be easier in this case to also find glossaries with idioms, slang, dialects, etc. with commonly used terms, even those used by the latest generations.

In short, the translator’s work requires a combination of both tools: the paper dictionaries needed for more technical, specialized and sectorial renderings, and digital vocabularies for more discursive, marketing and commercial translations.

The human factor in translations

Some say that in time machines will replace human labor, but we disagree; they are, however, certainly an excellent aid in the processes of operators in the industry. At the same time., finally, the increasing focus on climate change, reducing CO2 emissions, and protecting our planet remains a

crucial for our industry as well, where the ecological footprint
is ensured thanks to the “computerization” of almost all processes, thus leading to a
reduction of paper waste
, first of all our online translation platform.