Think of how modern education disciplines owe their debt to Greek ideas. From philosophy, mathematics, geography and to the sciences, you cannot deny the preeminence of Greek philosophy in influencing modern education.
That of course does not mean other civilizations were not important in the development of various disciplines.
But still, the question remains; why is Greek-thought so influential when compared to other world views of the time?
There is no perfect answer to explain this phenomenon since there are a multitude of factors to explain it.
However, one of them stands out because of its uniqueness and originality; Greek classical thought just happened to be the most translated classical tradition into various vernacular languages.
From ancient times, the medieval ages, the renaissance and even today, you do not have to speak Greek to know who Plato and Aristotle is.
What many people don’t know is that were it not for an active translation movement that began in the 9th century in Baghdad, much of this knowledge by ancient Greek philosophers would have been lost forever.
There are many ancient writings that survive to this day but unfortunately for some, nobody knows what they mean and perhaps you would probably find great thinkers like Plato in those texts as well.
Now taking this analogy, do you envisage a global long term strategy for your company that will ensure maximum pre-eminence in the world?
Do you want to become the next multinational? Do you want to reach the maximum number of people with your product or service without being relegated to oblivion?
If the answer is yes to all these questions, always remember this; not everybody in the world speaks English and secondly, the world is changing very fast and you need to adapt.
Going back to our Greek thought historical analogy, the similarities are vastly familiar to our contemporary times in that Greek philosophy still remained relevant in the major civilizations that followed it thanks to a continuous translation movement over centuries.
The point is that today for knowledge and information to have the maximum desired effect, you need an active translation strategy for your content to transcend and overcome the cultural or linguistic barriers.
As a company, you need an active and deliberate strategy to overcome such barriers because if you don’t, your competitors are already doing it and you may find yourself pushed out of the market eventually.
With that introduction in mind, we will argue that translation still occupies a very important place in modern society more than ever and for this reason, we will show you why.
1. Legal requirements
Translation is often a mandatory legal and administrative requirement with legal ramifications.
What many people do not know is that translation is also largely done in response to legal considerations.
In countries like the UK, France, and Australia you will need a sworn or an accredited translator who is recognized by judicial authorities for example.
Here is why.
First, when it comes to some documents you have no choice but to translate because as we will see, the need to be lucid is prioritized above everything else since it carries huge legal implications.
If you are a foreigner, and for you to access government services, many authorities both at the regional and at the national level will not only demand original documents but that these original documents should be accompanied by certified/sworn translations.
It means that whether you are in the process of localisation or internationalisation, a natural person or a company will be required by law to at least translate such documents like;
- Legal contracts
- General terms and conditions
- User manuals
- Court documents and patents
- Birth and marriage certificates
In this regard, you will need legally accredited and trustworthy translation firms to translate such documents because they prioritise strict adherence and conformity to the original content.
When you have a certified translator, it gives you assurance that the translators are qualified and are bound by a strict ethical code.
That is why we advise that whenever you have a document that could have potential and legal ramifications, first check with the local jurisdictions that licence translators to ensure that there is strict compliance with the law.
Finally, you need to know that by nature of their work, most intergovernmental agencies and organisations are by nature multilingual.
For this reason, they require the highest commitment to not only precise translations, but sometimes the content will be subject to sensitive information and thus non-disclosures.
For such kind of work, we advise that you choose one service provider who can do such work under one roof to simplify legal procedures.
Multinational companies by their nature must work alongside multicultural societies.
A multinational company stands and operates on two polar realities the first one being, it has a national base (country of origin). The second one being, it has established several subsidiaries abroad.
What this means is that, they operate a global organization strategy designed to be everything to all people – with no specific loyalty or bias to any group at the expense of others.
As Joseph Nye, an International relations expert noted,“ what attracts in Paris might repel in Riyadh”.
It also implies that multinational companies are at the heart of globalization leading to the decompartmentalization of markets by emphasizing and facilitating the integration of industrial and commercial operations beyond national borders.
To achieve this, multinational companies must resort to the following strategies to overcome linguistic challenges once they take commercial operations beyond national borders.
a. Localization (l10n)
This is adapting a product in a particular linguistic and cultural market to facilitate its easy usage.
But, it goes beyond simply modifying a translation to make it more ‘local’. Rather, it’s about making your product and content look authentic to the different communities that you are targeting.
It is about creating a sentimental connection that enhances the value of your products for your local customers.
For this reason, we advise that you should always take a critical look at things like; the kind of music and the colours accompanying the language.
b. Internationalization (i18n)
This is the method of developing a product so that it can be easily translated/adapted into multiple languages and cultures.
It involves modifying software and other related technologies so that they can potentially handle multiple languages.
It means putting in place techniques so as to ensure that text, images, currency symbols and even colors can be adapted to different languages and cultures.
The goal is to have a code or content structure that is easily rewritable to anticipate different textual elements, colors, images, text size, date formats, and the direction of the writing.
Within national borders, societies are also highly multicultural, what do you do?
We will argue that in this regard, there is an overlap in strategies and here is the reason.
In the same way, multinationals localize their content to fit local cultures, through careful target marketing, you can also access a huge domestic ethnic demographic just by localization (l10n).
It will mean often working with native based translators who understand ethnic customs very well, since knowledge acquired through immersion and proximity culture is more valuable.
Written by Mark Saba, Founder and CEO, LEXIGO: With his passion for technology, business and globalization – Mark is responsible for realising LEXIGO's vision and strategic development of LEXIGO technologies, with a particular interest in translation process automation, machine learning and multicultural marketing. His experience in a diverse range of fields gives LEXIGO a dynamic and fresh approach to the delivery of its products and services.