The Translation Service has a reputation for being a specialist of languages of low diffusion. Currently, we have linguists for over 140 different languages, and most of them are not large commercial ones. That, and our commitment to high quality, are the reasons why we’re often called upon to provide translation and other language services for your less common languages, which are rarely covered by private agencies for lack of profitability.

Guided by our public service ethos, we’re committed to cover New Zealand community languages like Tuvaluan, Niuean and Kiribati, refugee languages such as Iqbo, Amharic and Chin, and any other languages that may be needed in specific circumstances – when a New Zealander has an accident in Bhutan for example, and needs his or her medical report translated from Dzongkha into English. We will do everything that we can to meet the needs of our prospective clients even if it means recruiting several freelance linguists specifically for that task. If the likelihood of us ever being asked to provide language services in a specific language is non-existent, we will find an alternative solution.

Today was no exception. A lovely lady called to request assistance with the translation of two sentences from English into Inuktitut – not your typical request as you can imagine. Unfortunately we don’t have translators in our books who can translate into that language, but that didn’t necessarily mean we couldn’t help.

With 34,000 native speakers according to the 2011 census, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that professional Inuktitut translators are a rare breed. Finding two translators, let alone one, willing to go through the recruitment process for a two-sentence job was highly unlikely, and our future workload into or from that language seemed rather limited. We were however able to locate a translation agency in Canada that provides translations into Inuktitut, and gave their details to the prospective client, along with some recommendations. This was the most efficient and straight-forward solution to her request.

She was happy, and along the way we learnt a few interesting facts about this Inuit language. Did you know for example that a 34(!)-year project to translate the Bible into Inuktitut recently came to completion? This is an important feat, as historically translating the Bible has played a major role in setting and maintaining languages – Inuktitut will probably be no exception. An article reports on the difficulties encountered during this very long project.

Just another day in the office!