The Transformative Power Of Translation Services


Translation services and, to a broader extent, translation in general have the power to transform South Africa’s intersectionality – influencing our education sector and widespread communities. Without translation, South Africa would be a very different place; not only on a national level, but internationally too. After all, much of our international relations are built on effective and reliable translations.


Without translation efforts, there would be no way to share the myriad of cultures, history, and literature within our rainbow nation – which would consequently impact our education system. Translation services allow anyone and everyone to access and engage with the world, as well as share their personal stories. It allows for growth in communities and a broader connection amongst South African citizens.


International Language Consultancy (ILC) is a leading linguistics agency that offers translation services in all South African languages as well as a range of other African and international languages. Our translation services pair you up with highly-trained, qualified, and experienced language consultants to ensure top-tier translated documents. This article seeks to illustrate the importance of what we do, both nationally and internationally. We will also delve into how multilingualism and linguistics can shape South Africa’s accessibility to education and how careful, effective translation has the power to uplift communities.




South African Languages And The Value Of Translation


South Africa has 11 official languages: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Pedi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Swati, and Ndebele. The most common of which are; English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. This makes South Africa incredibly unique, and we have been identified as the third country in the world for most official languages spoken – after Bolivia and India respectively. We are also recognized as the country with the most languages in its National Anthem, with five of our official languages making an appearance.


More than 57 million people can speak more than one language in our country. This is a perfect example of South Africa’s multilingualism and large, varied ethnic and cultural identities. We are often referred to as the “rainbow nation” for this reason. As a country housing citizens from many walks of life, there is plenty of value in learning from one another – and being able to understand other languages allows for that connection. And yet, most South Africans statistically can’t name more than six to seven languages in their own country.


The main obstacle to the sharing and knowledge of South African culture and history is the lack of translation. The government has limited funding and most, if not all, texts have limited translated alternatives. In our county, our languages are regulated by the governmental department Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). The priorities of PanSALB mainly focus on the nine official Bantu languages, in addition to San, Khoi, and South Africa’s official sign language. This is because there is a genuine concern that some of these languages might die out. In contrast, the English language is not going anywhere, and Afrikaans has a separate regulated body, Die Taalkommissie, for extra funding and focus.


This is just one reason why translation is so valuable in our country, and why translation needs to be accessible. The more translations of texts and data there are, the less risk there is of a culture, history, and language being lost or forgotten. The importance and emphasis on Bantu and other African languages are also essential in the effort against decolonisation. Prioritising English and Afrikaans upholds an old system of oppression and discrimination and doesn’t allow for a sense of inclusivity. Essentially, the translation of languages is vital in building a more inclusive country – something that is especially important in education and higher education language policies.




Translation And Transformation In Education


There can only be a rainbow nation if the colours are banded together, bright and unified. Isolating the colours will not do our country any good. South Africa’s languages are proportionately split among the population percentage, and there is not one language that is not worth investing in, understanding, and translating. Access to education is valuable in this way as well, as more learning can be done if there are more ways to access information, texts, literature and data in academia.


In higher education, the Language Policy acknowledges that offering courses in all 11 South African languages is unrealistic due to lack of funding and limited availability of lectures. Instead, most Universities in the country only offer three or four of the 11 official languages. The University of Pretoria offers English, Afrikaans and Sepedi as forms of communication. The University of Johannesburg instructs in Northern Sotho, English, isiZulu and Afrikaans. The University of Cape Town offers English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans as mediums of administration and instruction.


It is easy to see that Afrikaans and English are still the main languages of instruction in major South African Universities. However, millions of people within the country speak other languages – the most recent statistics are as follows:


  • Ndebele: 1.1 million
  • Northern Sotho: 4.6 million
  • Southern Sotho: 3.9 million
  • Swati: 1.3 million
  • Tsonga: 2.3 million
  • Tswana: 4.1 million
  • Venda: 1.2 million
  • Xhosa: 8.2 million
  • Zulu: 11.6 million


This is why it is so valuable to invest in independent translation services. Whilst governments and institutions might not be able to fund language translation, here at ILC we offer translation services that can make inclusivity more attainable. Education is a basic right in South Africa and, while universities and schools are slowly expanding their language policies, we are here to help with all of your translation service needs in the meantime.


We are committed to overcoming language barriers and creating reliable accessibility with our translation services. Having operated in the language industry for over 7 years, we know the gap for translations in all 11 South African Languages and we have strived to bridge that gap.


About International Language Consultancy


International Language Consultancy (ILC) is a leading competitor in the linguistics industry. Our goal is to lighten your project management loads by handling language tasks on your behalf. Whether you need professional translations, accurate transcriptions, detailed proofreading and more, ILC is here to help you out. With plenty of experience and expertise, we have been offering language services for over a decade and counting. When you work with us, you can look forward to quick turnaround times, excellent quality, and industry-leading rates and services. Moreover, outsourcing your work to ILC guarantees that your content is safe in the hands of experienced managers, practitioners, and educationalists.


Written copy, no matter the industry, needs to be held to a high standard – and reliable linguistic services can be necessary to ensure high-quality content. This is especially true of translation, as having your written copy translated effectively takes more effort than AI and Google Translate would suggest. At ILC, we understand the nuances needed for accurate translation and offer the same level of localisation with international languages as we do with our national translations. We also use premium technology to ensure consistency and a document free of any errors, and all translated copy is proofread and edited with the highest level of care.


By having your content accurately and professionally translated, you offer a sign of respect to native and multilingual speakers of the languages you translate. With a designated team that gets your content out with as efficient a workflow as possible, you are guaranteed a schedule that prioritises efficiency without sacrificing quality. We strive to make the process easier than ever by covering all of your translation service needs in one place. We can help you bridge the language barrier and contribute to a more accessible and inclusive community, both nationally and internationally.




ILC Translation Services: Reaching A Wider Audience


Our consultants create detail-oriented language solutions for organisations, businesses, and government bodies, and follow and instil rigorous quality guidelines that ensure success and satisfaction with every service. Moreover, all of our experts are members of SATI, The South African Translators Institute and deliver translation work of international quality standards.


When translating any document, translators need to have a clear understanding of the technical and professional nuances present in languages. We translate with a commitment to an authentic portrayal of the original text, going beyond conveying just a general idea. When you invest in our translation services, we pair your needs with an appropriate translator, who is both proficient and currently active in their chosen field. This ensures that your translations include the technicalities, terminologies, and subject matter relevant to your industry.


We also make sure to prevent any potential negative impact due to incorrect translation in your chosen language. Our localisation services, along with our translation services, adapt to your targeted language audience. These include:


  • Geographic locations
  • Gender roles
  • Target culture
  • Political correctness
  • Local sensitivities
  • National holidays
  • Time zones
  • Product or service names
  • Currencies


Any document deserves to be translated with respect and intention. With our focus on localisation, we incorporate the appropriate vocabulary that makes your business and documents both accessible and understandable to a wider audience. This, in turn, protects the reputation of your institution.


Over and above the 11 South African Languages, we also offer translation and localisation services in the following African and international languages; Igbo, Russian, ‘African’ French, Arabic, Shona French, Swahili, Japanese, Chichewa, Portuguese, ‘African’ Portuguese, German. Urdu, Italian, and Spanish.


By bridging linguistic barriers you also allow your business, organisation, or institution to grow. Just like in education, having access to more languages means there are greater opportunities to pursue. By employing translation services, you can break the barriers and allow for more effective communication and documentation.


The written documentation we currently translate includes; reports, proposals, technical documents, financial material, company information, legal documents and marketing materials. However, if you have any other documentation you would like to translate, contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.


Get In Touch


Translation services are valuable in a country with linguistic and language diversity. Let ICL help you embrace and honour the beautiful multilingualism in South Africa and reach a wider audience. Make your business, brand, or institution more inclusive and accessible with our affordable and professional translation services. We guarantee accurate translations in any subject matter, with translations handled by qualified and trained professionals. Don’t hesitate to get in touch for personalised consultations and quotations today!