What are the contributions translation makes to our life and our world?

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Translation allows us access to the knowledge and wisdom of the entire world, rather than just a part of it. Within living memory, many scientists in the English-speaking world were advised to learn German if they wished to specialize in certain areas, since the most advanced work in these fields was being done by German scientists, and the results of their research might not be available in English for many years. Today, important scientific research is normally available in English almost immediately, though speakers of other languages are not so fortunate.

Scientific research made possible by translation has the potential to benefit everyone, including people who do not speak the languages into which it has been translated. If a vaccine is developed based on research done in various different countries, people all over the world may be able to use the vaccine without ever realizing that they are benefitting from translation.

In other areas, to be a native speaker of English is to be in a position of such linguistic privilege that it is easy to overlook the importance of translation. Every book that begins to make an impact on the world is very quickly translated into English. If you hear of a famous Spanish or Russian writer, you can be certain of finding his or her works in English, often, in the case of classic authors, with a choice of versions.

Although certain types of literature, such as lyric poetry, are notoriously difficult to translate, translation vastly enlarges our mental horizons, allowing us to appreciate a myriad of different cultures and points of view which would otherwise be entirely unavailable.

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