Since the birth of the modern Olympic Games in 1894, the event has grown from a mere 24 countries to over 200. As you might have guessed, the linguistic challenges involved are tremendous. The Games are in full swing in Rio de Janeiro right now. To celebrate, here are 7 fun facts and interesting stories about translation at the 2016 Olympics. Enjoy!
The 2016 Games Have 3 Official Languages: English, French and Portuguese
The Olympics always have two official languages: English and French. Other official languages are assigned based on the languages spoken in the host country. This year, that’s Portuguese, a Romance language with 215 million native speakers and the only official language of Brazil.
This Year, As Always, the French Are Watching
Pity the Francophiles! Unless the Olympic Games are being held in a French-speaking nation, the French language seems to get the short end of the stick when compared to English and the language of the host country. Every year, the International Organization of la Francophonie observes the games to make sure that the French language gets its due. They also appoint a language watchdog called le Grand Témoin, which translates to “the Great Witness.” This year, le Grand Témoin is jazz musician Manu Dibango of Cameroon, pictured at left.
Rio De Janeiro Sought Out 8,000 Volunteers for Translation at the Olympics
Translation at the Olympics is always a huge concern, and this year was no different. In preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro sought out 8,000 volunteers with language skills to act as interpreters and translators for athletes, delegates and the press. Read more