Importance of translations

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Translations of scientific articles, books, reports, abstracts, titles, ontologies and terms allow for a better access to the scientific literature, both for authors and for readers. English as a common language has made global communication within science/academia easier. However, even within academia not everyone masters English sufficiently and the use of English has made communication with non-English communities harder. This goes both ways, there are people who could benefit from scientific knowledge and people who have knowledge scientists should know.

For people who speak English it is easy to overestimate how many people speak English because they mostly deal with foreigners who do speak English. It is thought that 1.3 billion people speak English. That means that 7 billion people do not. For example, only few people at weather services in the Global South master English and the World Meteorological Organization, as a membership organization of the weather services, translates all its guidance reports into many languages. Translated scientific articles open science to regular people, science enthusiasts, activists, advisors, trainers, consultants, architects, doctors, journalists, planners, administrators, technicians and scientists.

Translated scientific articles speed up scientific progress by tapping into more knowledge and avoiding double work. They thus improve the quality of science. The additional two-way knowledge transfer aids innovation and tackling the big global challenges in the fields of climate change, agriculture and health. Translations can improve public disclosure, scientific engagement and science literacy. The production of translated scientific articles also creates a training dataset to improve automatic translations, which for most languages is still lacking.