Almost all languages change. Some naturally die out along with their tribe speakers, and sometimes linguistic groups are absorbed. Although new languages, particularly creoles, are born from time to time, the trend is towards absorption and amalgamation. When Columbus arrived in the New World, there were an estimated 1,000 languages. Now there are about 600. The rarest language as of 1984 was Oubykh, a highly complex Caucasian language once spoken by 50,000 people. By 1984 there was just one speaker remaining and he was 82 years old!
Almost all languages change. An exception is Icelandic which has changed so little that modern Icelanders can read sagas written a thousand years ago. If Leif Ericson appeared on the streets of Reykjavik he could find his way around, allowing for certain difficulties over terms like airport and quarter-pounder cheeseburger. In English by contrast, the change has been much more dramatic. Almost any untrained person looking at manuscript from, say, the Venerable Bede would be hard pressed to identify it as being in English – and in a sense he or she would be right. Today we have not only a completely different vocabulary system of spelling, but even a different structure.
For any translation firm it is important to stay up to date with language change. At Global Lingo, to help us deal with this change, we have the modern day advantages of computer technology such as Trados, on-line and traditional dictionaries and of course over 5,000 professional translators based around the world to keep an eagle eye on any possible changes.
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