While talking about translation and interpretation, many people often ask questions regarding its history and beginning. It is perhaps impossible to trace the beginning of interpretation as spoken language was developed many years before the written system. However historians all over the world have tried to study ancient documents and relics to discover the secrets of translation.
Almost everyone is familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel. If we analyze it as a part of literature we can say that around this time people knew about the existence of different languages and perhaps had started interpreting and translating each other’s words.
If we go beyond the written records, we can assume that the first traders/ settlers who decided to move and migrate from one place to another for various reasons were perhaps the first translators and interpreters. These people due to their needs and requirements moved all over the world probably picking up rudimentary languages and aiding new explorers. According to many historians, a large scale trade flourished between the African and Asian nations in the BCE era.
Religion too played an important role in the development of interpretation and translation. Missionaries of various religions such as Buddhism and Jainism can also be called as first translators and interpreters. These people moved beyond the boundaries of India to spread the message of their religion. Buddhist and Jain monks were soon followed by Christian and Muslim missionaries. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad encouraged learning and studying new languages and desired to increase the number of translators. Zaid Ibnu Thabet was a prominent translator in the time of the Prophet.
According to certain studies, St Jerome is considered to be the father of translation. He translated the Bible into the language of the masses thus helping people understand and interpret religion on their own accord. He was fluent in Latin, Greek and Hebrew and could understand Aramaic, Arabic and Syraic. Due his strong and significant work in the field of translation, he is said to be the most important translator.
According to many other significant researches, La Malinche is considered to be the most important and also one of the first translators. This is perhaps due to the fact that her translations and interpretations helped the Spanish Conquisition of the Aztecs. She is also seen as the creator of the new race of Mexicans.