Translation as a kind of language activity

Translation as a kind of language activity.

Language is a significant part of what makes us humans along with other cognitive skills such as mathematical and spatial reasoning, musical and drawing abilities the capacity to form social relationships, etc. Not everyone becomes proficient at complex mathematical reasoning, few people learn to paint well and many people cannot carry a tune, but the use of language is universal — all normally developing children learn to speak at least one language. Because everyone is capable of learning to speak and understand language, it may seem to be simple. But just the opposite is true — language is one of the most difficult of all human cognitive abilities. And it is astonishing how rapidly language is mastered by humans. Many of the most complex aspects of language are mastered even by three and four-year-old children. Observations show that there are often only loose or incomplete connections between linguistic knowledge and experience. These features of language follow from a single premise — humans have an "instinct" to learn languages, a biological blueprint for language development.

Different peoples speak different languages. At present there are 3-4 thousand languages. One of the most widely spoken is English. Nowadays more than a billion people speak English and this number is increasing constantly. It has come into business and other spheres of our life. For instance, about 80 per cent of modern e-mails is sent only in English. The roots of this phenomenon lie in the history of mankind development. Separate groups of people left their tribes in search for food and settled everywhere. So their languages developed separately and new languages formed. The existence of different languages caused the need for translation.

The linguistic science of translation is rather young. Serious studies began only at the beginning of the 20th century. Translators as well as interpreters don't pretend their profession to be the ancient one, but people who can be mediators were of great demand in the period of ancient tribes. The first interpreters were probably women. It's commonly known that in the ancient times there existed a custom of stealing brides, thus there was a need to master the language. In Babylon there were groups of translators who brought the ruler's commands into conquered nations. In ancient Egypt there was a special school, which prepared translators and interpreters. In Europe the name of the first translator was Livius Andronius who translated "Odyssey" into Latin. Middle ages: the large proportion of translation was of biblical and other religious documents. Even at that period translators tried to find the best ways of translation. Alfric, a talented English writer and translator, laid down some general principles of translation: clarity and easiness to understand. John Dryden (the reign of Elisabeth I) was the first to recognize and to describe clearly translation as an art with some definite principles. A. F. Tytler had an essay on the principles of translation, which was the first book of English devoted to translation studies, where three laws of translation were propounded:

1. The translation should give the complete transcript of the ideas of the original work;
2. The style and manner of writing should be of the same with that of the original work;
3. The translation should have all the ease of the original composition.

The beginning of the Russian translation goes back to the Kiev Russia times, which had close trade with foreign countries.