- The word translation derives from the Latin translatio (which itself comes from trans- and fero, together meaning “to carry across” or “to bring across”).
- The ancient Greek word for interpreter/translator is Hermêneus, directly related to the name of the god Hermes. Its many further meanings—mediator, go-between, deal-broker, marriage-broker—open up a window onto the work of interpreters during prehistory.
- The traditions of translating material among Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Syriac, Anatolian and Hebrew go back several millennia. An early example of a bilingual document is the 1274 BCE Treaty of Kadesh.
- One of the first recorded instances of translation in the West was the rendering of the Old Testament into Greek in the 3rd century BCE. The translation is known as the “Septuagint”, a name that refers to the seventy translators (seventy-two, in some versions) who were commissioned to translate the Bible at Alexandria, Egypt.
- A secular icon for the art of translation is the Rosetta Stone. This trilingual (hieroglyphic-Egyptian, demotic-Egyptian, ancient-Greek) stele became the translator’s key to decryption of Egyptian hieroglyphs by Thomas Young, Jean-François Champollion and others.
- The Renaissance has been termed “the great age of translations.” The rise of Humanism inspired translators from various European countries to translate many texts, especially those of the ancients.
- The translator of the Bible into German, Martin Luther, is credited with being the first European to posit that one translates satisfactorily only toward his own language.
- Especially after the Renaissance, Europeans began more intensive study of Arabic and Persian translations of classical works as well as scientific and philosophical works of Arab and oriental origins.
- Despite occasional theoretical diversity, the actual practice of translation has hardly changed since antiquity. translators have generally shown prudent flexibility in seeking equivalents — “literal” where possible, paraphrastic where necessary — for the original meaning and other crucial “values”.
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