7 translation facts you (maybe) didn’t know

The world of translation is vast. There are thousands of language service providers around the world and far more linguists.

Here are some fascinating facts about translation!

The number of translators globally

This is how many are an estimated 640,000 translators in the world currently (source: Translators Association of China).
Most work for language service providers but around 25% are currently working as freelancers.

The number of words a translator can translate in one year

A translator working full time can be estimated to translate 520,000 words per year. An industry benchmark for translator output is around 250 words within an hour.

Coincidentally, the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is said to be around 20,000 words. A passive one will have around 40,000 words, according to The Economist.

The person who speaks the most languages

Ziad Fazah, a Liberian-born Lebanese polyglot, is the Guinness World Record holder for speaking the most languages. Fazah claims to be able to read and speak 58 languages including Arabic, Polish, Thai, Urdu, Norwegian and many more.

While Fazah has proven his abilities to achieve the record, there have been some questions raised. This was most notable during an appearance on Chilean TV, where he failed to understand beginner-level phrases in Finnish, Russian, Chinese, Persian, Hindi and Greek. Even so, he claims to be fluent in each of these!

The most translated document

It’s not particularly surprising that the most translated literary work in the history is the Bible. In fact, people throughout history have worked to translate it into a huge 2932 languages.

UNESCO has an online database named ‘Index Translationum’, which shows a list of all the books translated all over the world. However, the most translated document is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed by the United Nations in 1948. This document was translated into 370 languages and contains six pages.

The most translated authors

Agatha Christie (7233 translations), Jules Verne (4751 translations) and William Shakespeare (4293 translations) are the most translated authors according to recent translation data.

The title for the most languages into which the same book has been translated goes to The Way to Happiness by Scientology author Ron Hubbard. It can be read in 70 languages as of 2010.

The most expensive language combination

A number of factors influence the cost of a translation. Supply and demand obviously is the most important factor impacting cost. A translator’s origin (and current location) can also make a difference. Translators based in countries with a high cost of living have to charge more for their services in order to sustain their career. Using the US as an example, according to Slator.com, the priciest language pairs in the USA are English to Japanese and English to Korean with the average price reaching $0.57 per word.

The world’s most translated website

While you would expect a site such as Wikipedia, Google or Apple to take this title, the most translated website in the world goes to Jehovah’s Witnesses (jw.org). The religious group’s website has over list 900 language options!

Jehovah’s Witnesses will immediately begin translating each of their resources into every language upon publication. Ultimately, they are on a mission to spread their faith to every corner of the globe. Naturally, making use of extensive language translation will help to achieve their goals!


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Here at DA Languages, we work with native, experienced linguists from all over the world. We are able to provide translation in over 450 languages in quick turnaround times.

Reach out to see how we can help you.

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