The Longest Day
Today is the 2021 summer solstice, the day when, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun follows its longest path through the sky and reaches its highest point. For many centuries the position of the sun was taken as a guide on how to plant or harvest crops, or when to practice rituals.
Five thousand years ago the Mayan tribes of Latin America built statues that matched the position of shadows created by the sun during solstice, It’s one example of the cultural landmarks that ensure we know far more about the Mayans than we do about many other civilizations of that period. One notable way in which that ancient culture survived was through language. Mayans spoke several hundred different languages covering seven major language families. They were among the first people in human history to develop their own system of writing, and over the centuries they incorporated language traits of visitors and conquerors into their own native tongues. Mayan technology might not have been advanced by 21st century standards, but by developing an independent method of writing and communicating in hundreds of languages across thousands of miles, the Mayans created their own language management system. Early Mayan writing resembled Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the alphabet included as many as 500 letters. Many of these letters have been found repeated in blocks in written texts, suggesting that an element of automation was in use, even in the earliest days of human communication. The lesson? As much as we humans may love the sound of our own voices or the sight of our own penmanship, when we’re given the opportunity to make life easier for ourselves by repeating blocks of language that we know will convey the message we want to convey, we grab it with both hands.
Today the application of artificial intelligence is moving language technology forward so far and so quickly that the nuance of personal messages can be preserved in translation, with the bulk of the work being automated. Automated localization systems can create a glossary for each target language, giving you a collaborative resource for your translation team that includes key terminology in your source language and approved translations of each term in your chosen target languages. By automating the tasks that can be automated, you give linguists more time to do what they do best – to add gloss to your glossary – and capture the essence of each message. The language might be technical, it might be sales-focused or it might be highly personal and emotive. A skilled linguist working with a cutting edge translation management system will convey its meaning precisely.
Arranging enormous slabs of rock in a precise pattern is a considerable feat, so the Mayans who left monuments to the path of the Sun weren’t just showing brute strength. They were working with the most advanced technology available to them, not only in communication but also in engineering. You can take advantage of that combination too. You can follow a communication path that leads wherever you want it to go and engages whoever you want it to engage. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the longest day of the year. By combining the finest linguistic expertise with finest software engineering, we’re going to make the most of every minute. Are you?