Hardest Languages ​​To Translate

Hardest Languages ​​To Translate

Published on October 28th, 2022

The world is getting smaller by the day, thanks to the internet and our powerful computers. Today, we can communicate with people from all over the world with a touch of a button.

We are able to share our culture, knowledge, and experiences with videos and articles describing our country and people. However, is your content reaching its full potential?

Why Are These Languages So Hard to Translate?

By converting your documents into various languages, the world will truly become your oyster. However, translation isn’t something anyone can do. Moreover, some languages are more challenging to translate than others.

English to French, for example, is on the easier end of the spectrum, while English to Korean lies on the other side. Let’s look at some of the most difficult languages to translate.

1. Mandarin (Chinese)

Linguistically, Chinese and English are extremely different. The Chinese language has no letter case, tenses, and plural forms. Furthermore, grammar doesn’t work the same way.

Translations are challenging to get right because one Chinese character might have a few different meanings depending on what it’s paired with. Additionally, a single English word might equate to a few Chinese characters.

As the Chinese often communicate using idioms, a translator has to be familiar with them. Anyone who has studied Mandarin will tell you that that is no easy feat.

2. Thai

The Thai language is another one that’s challenging for ordinary translators. This monosyllabic language has ties to the ones people speak in Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Yunnan. The Indian script used in Thai developed thanks to the Southern Silk Roads.

In Thai, there are no spaces between words, only sentences. Moreover, just like Mandarin, one may write a word a certain way. However, its meaning depends on the pronunciation.

Therefore, it’s more or less impossible to use an automated tool for Thai translations. Context plays a more important role here compared to other languages.

3. Arabic

The difficulty of Arabic translation stems from the fact that it’s so widely spoken and has branched out into many different dialects.

You might speak Arabic in your country. However, the words you use might hold different meanings when compared to original Arabic.

Arabic translators have to account for the dialect before attempting to translate anything. Otherwise, the resulting text will not hold the same meaning, tone, or emotional value.

Thankfully, this is the beauty of human translators. They make sure the translation delivers the same message as the source, no matter how challenging it is.

4. Hungarian

Hungarian has a rich history. Nomadic tribes were speaking it as early as 3,000 years ago. It has Turkish influences and very different grammatical rules compared to English.

Much like Chinese, Hungarians, too, frequently speak with idioms. Therefore, you won’t be able to rely upon Google Translate to have a clear interpretation of a Hungarian text.

Hungarian translators are capable of doing their job because they understand the culture of Hungary. They don’t just convert the words but the context of the overall sentence or paragraph.

5. Korean

In Korean translation, what’s difficult to convey is intention and situation. One word in English might have various meanings, whereas in Korean, it’s usually very succinct. Therefore, a translator has to know the full context of the document before translating it.

The rules for Korean grammar, prepositions, and tenses are also very different compared to other languages. Misunderstandings are common when foreigners try to communicate in Korea, and it’s easy to see why.

The Incomparable Results of Human Translation

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in transcription and translation. However, it’s still lacking in terms of accuracy. Machines are not yet capable of understanding context, emotion, and cultural differences.

Therefore, human translation is still the preferred choice of many. Suffice to say, the more complicated a language is to translate, the more you need a professional to perform the work.

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