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English to Hebrew Translation Can Be Even
Tougher Than You Thought!

Hebrew to English Corporate Document Translation Services

If you like a challenge sprinkled in with some history, you’ll be fascinated by what goes into a Hebrew translation!

Incredibly, the Hebrew used today is still based on not only the same alphabet, but the very same words that are found in the Bible, from the 11th century BC. While for many centuries Hebrew was barely used in everyday life, it still survived as a written language and the language of Jewish prayer. The revival of Hebrew as an everyday language began around 1900, but once the State of Israel was established in 1948, the rush was on to invent the words that the new state and its citizens would need. Words like “electricity”, “computer” and “laboratory” all have roots taken from the Old Testament. The result is that a relatively small number of 3-letter roots yield a dizzying number of variations. Add to that the fact that Hebrew has almost no vowels (cn u imgn wt tht wd be lk?), and no capitals, and you will understand the challenges facing a translator from Hebrew. Also, all the prepositions and articles – “to”, “in”, “at”, “the” – are merely letters attached to the front of a word, while possessives – “my”,” your”, “their” – are suffixes and do not constitute separate words. This is why a text of 1000 Hebrew words may yield 1300 or even 1500 English words.

Another challenging feature of legal Hebrew translations (contracts, briefs, decisions) is the use of phrases in Aramaic – the language spoken by Jesus. This is because for centuries points of Jewish law were argued in Aramaic. So when a lawyer writing in Hebrew wants to say, “There is no difference” or, “All the more so in our case” he will usually use an Aramaic phrase.

Despite the weight of history, you will be surprised to find that Hebrew itself is a very informal and direct language. Unlike many other languages, it does not have two forms of address, formal and informal. And Israeli society itself is so informal that first names, and even nicknames are used constantly. Even the CEO of a large corporation will be referred to by his nickname in company documents. When translating into Hebrew, a good translator has to know how to walk a fine line between “getting to the point” and being brusque.

While the population of Israel is small (about 8 million), the Israeli economy is both extremely sophisticated and enjoying strong growth. Israel is a major developer and exporter of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, as well as software and high-tech products of all kinds. Many European, Asian and American companies have Israeli subsidiaries, so there are many intra-company documents requiring corporate translation services. The country also imports a wide range of consumer goods, necessitating the creation of marketing materials and websites in Hebrew. Israelis are savvy consumers so marketing materials have to be well-translated to catch their attention.

In fact, though, Hebrew is only one of Israel’s official languages – the other is Arabic – and it has large Russian-speaking and English-speaking populations as well. So, for example, materials to be given to patients in clinical trials are often translated into all four languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, English). And because Israel is a nation of immigrants, who bring their languages with them, words from other languages also find their way into Hebrew. A string of eight consonants, with only one vowel sound, may turn out to be “transporter” or “perspective” and your translator will have to figure that out from the context.

While an English to Hebrew translation can be tough to master, it comes with enough nuances to keep things interesting. You’ll be fascinated to see how everything plays out! Contact our corporate translation company for professional Hebrew-English and English-Hebrew document translations, or to retain a competent Hebrew deposition interpreter, or a Hebrew medical interpreter.