There are more than 300,000 translators in the world. What’s more interesting is there are more informal translators out there. It’s more than just changing words and sentences to different languages. And here are seven interesting, quite funny, and a little bit strange facts you need to know.
1. Translators have a patron saint.
St. Jerome, born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, is the patron saint of translators, librarians, and encyclopedia writers. Born in a village near the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia of northeastern Italy in the year 347, St. Jerome is best known for translating the Bible into Latin. It was called The Vulgate and was the official Catholic Bible in the 16th century. He was fluent in Greek and knew some Hebrew as well when he started his first translation project. He is considered one of the most educated of the Latin Fathers. He moved to Jerusalem to improve his grip on Jewish scripture commentary. In 382, he corrected the existing Latin version of the New Testament. Between that until he died, St. Jerome produced numerous commentaries about translation. St. Jerome died on by September 30, 420. It is his feast day and also the International Translation Day.
2. The most translated book is The Bible.
The first ever written word of God was the Ten Commandments that were delivered to Moses in 1,400 BC. In 500 BC, all 39 books of the Old Testament were completed in Hebrew while in 200 BC it was written in Septuagint Greek with additional 14 Apocrypha books. By 500 AD, the Bible has been translated into over 500 languages. It was first translated in English in 1384 by John Wycliffe. However, historians claim that a few priests and scholars have already translated the bible before Wycliffe did. Out of the world’s 6,901 languages, the bible has been translated into 5,042 and at least 2,833 languages have some portions of the bible. The other two most translated books are ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery with 253 total translations and ‘Pinocchio’ by Carlo Collodi with 240 translations.
3. A mistranslation lead to a Valentine’s Day mix up
In the 1950’s, chocolate companies in Japan encouraged people to celebrate Valentine’s Day together with other countries. However, a mistranslation from one company gave the idea that the women should be the one giving men chocolates. Until this day, they still follow that tradition. On February 14, women shower their husbands or boyfriends with chocolates and other gifts to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In the 1980’s, the Japanese National Confectionary Industry Association declared March 14 as a “reply day”, or is now more popularly known as “White Day”. Men are expected to return the favor to women on this day. This special holiday is also observed in China, South Korea and Taiwan. Chocolate companies in these countries, particularly in Japan, make half their annual sales during this time of the year.
4. Most translated language
People all over the world would say English is the universal language. Translators refer to it as “World English” in the international market and it means it’s neither UK nor US English. But nowadays, it’s slowly becoming not so dominant as before. Researches show that languages that are mostly translated into others are not only English but also French, German, Italian, and Russian. These languages plus Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese are also used by authors and advertisers around the globe to reach out to more people. Chinese, specifically, as it is also considered as essential when it comes to business and trade. Most translators say that Spanish is the easiest to translate. On the other hand, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Finnish are the most difficult.
5. Translators bring home the bacon
Being a translator is not the easiest job in the world; and not the best paying job to say the least. Translation started to become an industry way back in the 18th and 19th century. Translation requires skills, and those skills are not that easy to learn. There are some words that are difficult to translate, and there are really just some languages that are hard to translate in general. In America, an average translator’s salary ranges from $22,300 – $38,000 per year. However, the most experienced translators can earn up to $80,000. However, a lot of translators say it depends on the language they are translating. Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese translators sometimes earn more than translators for other languages. Not bad for an industry that not a lot of people appreciate.
6. Death of a Language
English is not the most spoken language in the world, but it is the official language of most countries around the world. Who knows? Maybe one day, it will be extinct. But how do languages die? There are a lot of answers to that question, but most experts say languages die because of modernization and globalization. When a person stops speaking their native language to learn another, that’s where the death starts. Apparently, one language dies every two weeks. Some of the oldest and widely-used languages centuries ago don’t exist anymore. Examples of which are Classic Armenian, Biblical Hebrew, Sanskrit, Latin, and New Testament Greek. However, there are still some universities around the world that teach these languages together with Hieroglyphs and Mayan script. Some researchers show that by the end of this century, around 7,000 languages will be extinct.
7. Happy Birthday, Google Translate!
Even the most experienced translator has used this tool even just once in their careers. It may not be perfectly accurate, but Google Translate gives you the general idea you need. And this year, it celebrates its ten years of existence. Launched on April 28, 2006, Google Translate started out by translating words from two languages. Now, they translate 103 languages with 500 million users from all over the world; 92% of which living outside the United States. They have also developed an application for less privileged and people with no internet connection called Word Lens that translates words offline using either Android or iOS devices.