Its common knowledge that simply translating a document from one language into another word for word is likely to lead to all sorts of linguistic errors. Even when the two languages are closely related, like English and German, it takes a good translator to make sure that documents in German are translated accurately into English and vice versa. In Australia, you can be assured that a German NAATI translator has a highly rated standard of translation, so if you want a German English translator, you need not search any further than a list of suitable NAATI translators.
One long-standing example of the importance of accurate document translation is the translation of the Bible into other languages. The Bible, in fact, has been translated into more languages than just about any other book. The actual number of languages it has been translated into is probably not known with absolute certainty, although the United Bible Societies claimed in 2007 that there were 438 full translations of both the Old and the New Testaments. There are many more languages in which parts of either book have been translated.
However, the quality of the translations has not always been that good and one can only guess what some of the text appears to mean to the readers. This is understandable in a way because the original texts which together make up the Torah of the Jews or the main texts of the Old Testament were originally written in Hebrew, or in some extracts, the ancient language of Aramaic.
The earliest translations of the New Testament were written in ancient Greek. From either the Hebrew or the Greek, the Bible has been translated into German, English and many other languages. Many of the first attempts at translation of either book into a European language were in the Middle Ages. Martin Luther, for instance, in 1521 is accredited with translating the New Testament from Greek into German. The printed form appeared the next year and was soon followed by French, Dutch, and even Slovenian editions.
Depending on the resources of the translators, the text may have passed through several translations in turn before the final language desired. For example, the translation of the New Testament into Pitjantjatjara, an Aboriginal language used in Central Australia, is from the King James Version of the book – i.e. from the English. Scholars disagree about which version of the Bible in English is the best and most accurately describes the meaning of the original scriptures. In fact, the translation of the Bible, together with the distribution of the products, has been a political hot potato ever since antiquity and in many nations continues to be so as can be witnessed by the hostility towards the dissemination of the Bible in nations like Afghanistan or Iran even today.