Though earlier approaches to translation are less commonly used today, they retain importance when dealing with their products, as when historians view ancient or medieval records to piece together events which took place in non-Western or pre-Western environments.
Also, though heavily influenced by Western traditions and practiced by translators taught in Western-style educational systems, Chinese and related translation traditions retain some theories and philosophies unique to the Chinese tradition.
Traditions of translating material among the languages of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Assyria (Syriac language), Anatolia, and Israel (Hebrew language) go back several millennia.
There exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (c.
2000 BCE) into Southwest Asian languages of the second millennium BCE.
There is a separate tradition of translation in South, Southeast and East Asia (primarily of texts from the Indian and Chinese civilizations), connected especially with the rendering of religious, particularly Buddhist, texts and with the governance of the Chinese empire.
Due to Western colonialism and cultural dominance in recent centuries, Western translation traditions have largely replaced other traditions.
The Western traditions draw on both ancient and medieval traditions, and on more recent European innovations.
In general, translators have sought to preserve the context itself by reproducing the original order of sememes, and hence word order—when necessary, reinterpreting the actual grammatical structure, for example, by shifting from active to passive voice, or vice versa.
The grammatical differences between "fixed-word-order" languages When a target language has lacked terms that are found in a source language, translators have borrowed those terms, thereby enriching the target language.