A Brief History of Translation

Much like A Short History of the WorldI sum up all of literary translation in the form of a 10-question quiz. This ran in EI to celebrate International Translation Day, but you can still take the quiz online:

Oral translation is probably one of the oldest human endeavors. We needed it to trade, to share knowledge and to prevent (or stir up) conflict. But translation of the written word is a relatively new pursuit. After all, writing did not emerge until around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and the idea of translating other cultures’ poems and stories came much later.

Despite its late start, translation has played an important role in human culture and history, with perhaps an even bigger role to come. 

1) One of the first known literary translations was of the Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” five poems about the king of Uruk. This epic inspired a number of other ancient texts, and was mainly about: Take the quiz.