Languages We Translate

Communication drives our world. It is the method we use for bridging the gap between our internal thoughts and our external expressions. Proper communication is required for everything from ordering a cup of coffee to negotiating an international peace treaty.

The majority of our communications rely upon our spoken and written language skills.  While unspoken communications such as body language and hand movements will always have a role in human-to-human contact, modern technology has lessened the requirement of actual in-person contact in order to interact with those of other countries and cultures. Through technological advancements, we are able to communicate with everyone from our neighbor to someone across the world, all online and without stepping foot outside our door.

The benefits of technology for global relations have been immeasurable. And yet, until a single, global language has been implemented – a very unlikely occurrence – we will continue to rely upon language translations in order to communicate effectively with the world around us.

It’s true that computer-based translation programs are helpful for quick translation of simple words and phrases. But proper translation, meaning translation which incorporates context and is able to accurately convey the speaker’s overall intent, still requires human involvement.

For example, think of the American phrase, “He was driving me up the wall.” Each of those words could be translated into another language via an online translation tool. Yet, in order to accurately convey this sentiment – which involves neither the act of driving nor an actual wall – you would need a translator who not only understands these words in English but understands the phrase’s meaning. Rather than translating the individual words, the human translator must be familiar enough with the new language to provide a phrase which accurately conveys the speaker’s intent. This is the difference between online tools and trained, professional translators.

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