top of page
law books,computer and scales of justice on desk in lawyer office and city view

Who Invented Translation?

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Oxford Companion to the English Language defines:

Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text using an equivalent target-language text. “

This consensus on the definition, however, is the result of social construction, a work that began in Ancient Greece. Did you know that translating is a practice originated thousands of years ago?

When Translation was born

It is believed that the first literary translation from one language to another was performed by Lívio Andrônico, considered to be the first European translator, around the year 250 B.C. Lívio made the Latin translation of Homer’s classic Odyssey, which was initially written in Greek (remember that Odyssey is the second work of Western literature). From that point on, several Latin authors have used this model to translate other pieces, in free form, for their recreation.

By that time, the Romans already worried about the message of the translated texts: not only the word was reproduced, but also the content, with emphasis on the delivery of the text. That is, they were already seeking to ensure not only a formal correspondence but correspondence for the message that was intended to be transmitted, taking into account the receptor’s culture. SCG Law & Language also use emphasis on the text as a guide for all the translations we carry out.

Leaping of a few centuries to the time of the Renaissance period, the foundations of modern translation were born. The most important pioneer was Martin Luther, the great name of the Protestant Reformation. Although he only dedicated himself to translating sacred texts, Martin Luther brought attention to translation as a rhetorical process and not merely aesthetic; that is, more than guaranteeing the beauty of the translated text, the essential part was to ensure the understanding of the idea transmitted to the receiver.

Luther was the author of the Protestant Reformation and responsible for important innovations in the process of Translation.

Translation and Heads of State: The Importance in Brazilian Politics

Regarding Brazil´s history, translation has been important since the arrival of the Portuguese.  It was through translators, that the Europeans performed exchanges with the natives and were able to catechize Indians. It was also used during the Empire and, subsequently, the Republic, but it developed in the post-World War II context (1945), with the creation of the United Nations and the increase of diplomatic relations between the countries.

Since then, translations have proved to be essential in the political context. According to Nexo Jornal, data from the Presidency of the Republic itself, inform that Lula, for example, spent 16% of his term abroad and counted on translators and interpreters. The most well-known of these is Sergio Ferreira, who provided translation services to the former President since 1992. His work has not always been easy: in many moments, Ferreira polished Lula’s comments and made them more context-specific.

Once he had to seek the most adequate translation possible for the President’s referral to communities of women that break babassu coconut: “Coconut cracking women”.

During a trip to Africa in 2003, Lula was surprised to arrive in Namibia and said: “anyone who arrives in Windhoek does not seem to be in an African country. Few cities in the world are clean and beautiful (like this) “. Ferreira, in order to avoid any conflict, interrupted the president’s reasoning, giving him the cue to remake his speech. He said he was not understanding him. Lula then softened saying, “The view we have of Africa is that it’s all poverty. ” Like this one, several slips of the president were softened by the interpreter. How important is a professional translator for a country to maintain healthy international relations!

Sérgio Ferreira appears in many official international meetings of former president Lula.  Source: Água Potável.

History, therefore, illustrates the essential role played by translators in many important moments. Translation as we know it today, with all the worries about the faithfulness of the past message, is the fruit of a long process of improvement, which began more than 2,000 years ago, and continues to be reinvented daily.

SCG Law& Language offers various types of specialized translations, with faithfulness to the message you want to convey. Contact me, and let me know what you need.

452 views0 comments


bottom of page