8 Famous Translators From the Past and Present

Translators tend to live in the shadows of the writers and authors whose work they translate. But today is World Translation Day. That means it’s time for translators to enjoy their day in the sun.  To celebrate, we’re highlighting 8 of the world’s most famous translators. Which one is your favorite?

St. Jerome (347-420 AD)220px-caravaggio_st_jerome

St. Jerome was an early Christian scholar who translated most of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. His translation, known as the Vulgate, became the official Catholic translation of the Bible and was the only translation of the Bible in use for a thousand years.

As such, even Jerome’s translation mistakes had a tremendous influence on Western culture. For instance, there are countless pictures of Moses with horns on his head because Jerome translated the Hebrew “keren” as “grew horns” instead of “radiated light.”

St. Jerome is the patron saint of translators, and we celebrate World Translation Day on his feast day.

Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890)richard_francis_burton_by_rischgitz_1864

Let’s jump right from the sacred to the profane, shall we? Sir Richard Francis Burton was an “English explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat” (according to Wikipedia).

In other words, he was basically The Most Interesting Man in the World for the 19th century.

Sir Richard Burton didn’t always translate ancient literature into English…but when he did, it was usually something erotic and “scandalous” for the time. For example, he was the first person to translate the Kama Sutra into English.  He was also the first to produce an uncensored translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. Other notable translations include The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology and the Priapiea, a collection of ancient Roman poems dedicated to “the rigid god.” Read more

Cinelistics: 30 Words & Phrases Popularised By Film

Cinelistics: 30 Words, Phrases and Neologisms Popularised by Film

Popular culture has always helped contribute to language development and been responsible for many little additions over the years. Cinema is one of the key delivery methods that has ensured new words and phrases have been given the chance of becoming adopted by a worldwide mainstream audience. While some may only have a fleeting period in the limelight, others become indoctrinated into everyday language long term. Here’s a list of a few of the all-time classics in no particular order, I can imagine a few of these have caused major headaches for translators and subtitlers along the way! Read more

Translation Hall of Fame

Have you ever wondered which book has been translated the most? Or who speaks the most languages, and exactly how many languages they speak? Wonder no more! We’ve put together a “translation hall of fame” to make it easy to find out the answers to these questions and more.  Read on to learn more about translation world records and other notable facts from the world of translation.

What is the Most Translated Book?bible_kralicka

The most translated book in history is the Bible. The entire book is available in 554 languages, which is more than any other book. Even more impressive, parts of the Bible have been translated into 2,932  languages.

It’s no accident, then, that International Translation Day is celebrated every year on September 30th, which is the feast day of the Bible’s first translator, St. Jerome.

What is the Most Translated Non-Religious Book?

The Bible has no competition for the world’s most translated  book. But if you excluded religious texts, the most translated book is Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio. 

Thanks to Disney, almost everyone is familiar with the story of the wooden puppet  who wants to become a real little boy. Want to read the original? It’s available in your choice of 260 languages.

Read more

International Peace Day: How to Say “Peace” in 35 Languages

Did you know that 21 September 2016 is the International Day of Peace? The United Nations has observed this holiday since 1982. I daresay we need it now more than ever. Here’s how people are marking the occasion, and how you can join in.

How the UN Celebrates International Day of Peace

The UN celebrates World Peace Day by ringing the Peace Bell at its New York headquarters. The Peace Bell is a bell made up of melted-down coins that were donated from around the world, from every contintent except Africa. It was given to the United Nations as a gift from Japan in 1954. Japanese characters on its side spell out Long live absolute world peace 世界絶対平和萬歳.

Also, each year’s World Peace Day celebrations have a theme.  The activities for the year are centered around the theme. For 2016, the focus is on achieving peace through the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  According to the UN’s Peace Day website:

Sustainability addresses the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and xenophobia, among others, pose challenges for peace and create fertile grounds for conflict. Sustainable development contributes decisively to dissipation and elimination of these causes of conflict and provides the foundation for a lasting peace. Peace, meanwhile, reinforces the conditions for sustainable development and liberates the resources needed for societies to develop and prosper.

Meanwhile, according to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon:

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people. They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”

Read more

The Top 5 Star Trek Languages

This September, we’re celebrating two important birthdays. On the first of the month, K International turned 30. Meanwhile, September 7th was the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.  In honor of the latter occasion, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable Star Trek languages, and the alien races that speak them.


Spoken by: The Klingons TNG-redemption_worf_and_gowron

Klingon is the most famous of the Star Trek languages. It is a fully fledged constructed language, which means it has a set grammar, syntax and vocabulary.  You could learn it yourself, if you wanted to invest the time and impress the opposite gender at your local Star Trek convention.

Learning Klingon is not easy. Although the language only has 3,000 words, it was designed to be as different from most human languages as possible. It is guttural and harsh. And don’t expect it to be appreciated outside of your local Star Trek convention; actors speaking Klingon (as well as those around them) routinely have to have spittle wiped off of them between takes. Apparently, the Klingon race has never heard the saying “Say it, don’t spray it.”

There are an estimated 20-30 people who speak it fluently.  One man actually went so far as to try to raise his son as a bilingual Klingon native speaker, but it didn’t work.

You can read The Epic of Gilgamesh, HamletMuch Ado About Nothing and the Tao Te Ching in Klingon translations, and there is actually a Klingon version of A Christmas Carol. 

Want to learn more? Check out the Klingon Language Institute. Read more

world languages quiz

How Much Do You Know About World Languages?

Do you fancy yourself a language expert? How much do you REALLY  know about languages around the world? Take our quiz on world languages and find out!

Answers are below the fold! Read more

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