Communication between explorers was always difficult when a new language and culture was encountered. However, as time has moved on communication has become much more effective. Professional translators not only concentrate on translating the language as they find it, but they know a lot more about the culture of those who speak native other languages. This has helped improve the quality of the translation.
Language isn’t Just Simple Communication
Even amongst those who speak the same language communication doesn’t always flow fluently. There are obstacles to understanding such as different accents and dialects as well as different use of terminology. To enable a fuller understanding when communication needs to take place gestures and sign language are systematically used as a tool. However, with cross-cultural communication gestures don’t always have the same meaning.
For example, foreigners are greeted when entering someone’s home in Japan by the host waving his/her hands towards that person. In a western home, this is meant to go away.
Sign Language Came First
There is a clear indication in early America that people who lived in the Plains when involved with trade with people from the Plateau sign language was used as the business language. When Europeans set foot on American soil bringing Spanish, French and English simple communication took place using single words which made communication as simple as possible. From this pidgin languages started to evolve. One of these is still alive today in some parts and that is called Chinook Jargon. It at one time was the most dominant language spoken between parts of Canada and Oregon.
The Evolution of Creole Languages
To begin with pidgin languages dominated which assisted foreigners to communicate on the basic level. Later Creole languages took over. These are a new language formed by the mixing of two other languages to make one new one. In the 1500s, around 150 Creole languages were in use which enabled better communication between Europeans and other groups. There are around 50 such languages still spoken today throughout the world.
Other Useful Language Systems
Using an intermediary language system in order to communicate was a tactic used by European explorers when they were in the Far East. When Marco Polo and Matteo Ricci made inroads into Asia, many of the languages spoken in the area were heavily influenced by Turkish and Mongolian. China at the time wasn’t influenced by other languages, mainly because they communicated using characters which form images and not individual words.
Despite this because there were trading routes established between China and central Asia Indian languages and Persian were the languages that acted as intermediaries along the vast trading route. The older Mesopotamian languages shared some similarities with Latin and Greek so it was quite easy for Polo and Ricci to locate people who spoke an Indian language but also understood Latin.
The language translation services available throughout Asia made it much easier for trading to take place in an amicable way while improving relationships between countries which didn’t share the same language. For example, in 1689 the Treaty of Nerchinsk was compiled in 3 languages, which were Latin, Russian and Manchu. Today patterns and similarities between languages can be seen such as in Europe with the Latin based languages.
European Words Found in some Asian Languages
Linguists who have some understanding of both Asian and European languages will see that in those languages there are traces of Russian, English, Portuguese and French. Vietnamese, as an example, spells coffee “ca phe” but pronounces it “café”. In Mandarin, Bolshevism is “buershiweike.” Words used in everyday language in a specific culture evolved through transliteration and today are still significant.
A traveller to Asia may detect some European words in Asian pronunciation, even if the spelling of the words isn’t obvious. For example, in Mandarin ‘qiao ke li tang’ means ‘chocolate’ and is part Mandarin and English. Similarities between European languages and Asian languages were discovered by Sir William Jones in 1768 when he noted that many Latin and Greek words had their origin in India’s ancient Sanskrit.
It was also found that some Indo-European languages shared similar sounds and structure. No one has yet discovered why this is. It has even got the better of historians and linguists who see it as an unsolved language mystery.
Despite the merging of words from one language to another language barriers still do exist and the only way this is overcome is through the use of translators who concentrate on learning two languages well enough so that they can come out with an accurate translation. Businesses today can take advantage of the global communication networks to promote and sell their products overseas but they still need to translate into targeted languages so they can get the most out of the market.