You want to know how many people in your class like chocolate or vanilla, so you walk around surveying everyone to get their answers. You want to determine if you can put a building in a certain spot so you call a surveyor to come figure things out. You’re hoping to make a little extra cash online, so you find paying surveys and take a few. These are all types of survey, but none of them are what I’ll be doing.

Language survey is the first step in translation. We cannot know how many translations a country needs and where to start them if we do not know how many languages are in a country and where they are. So, a survey team goes out and collects a series of questionnaires, word lists, and video data from the entire area being surveyed. Then, they come back to their nerd headquarters and start analyzing the data, determining where the language breaks are and who can understand each other based on linguisticy things.

Then comes the question of where should there be a translation? Let’s say that the diamond below is a country and each color represents a different language found in that country and the region it is spoken in. Now, let’s say that every language that touches another language can understand that language. So, 2 can understand 1, 3, and 5, but not 4. So, if we started a translation project in region 2, it would reach 4/5 of the country. But, if we started a translation project in region 5, the entire country could use it. This is why survey is so important. It not only discovers how many sign languages are actually in a country, but it helps to determine the best place to start a translation project.

But that just determines the languages. A surveyor’s goal is also to discover which regions respect each other and will accept their content. So, the next step is understanding the people. Maybe language 5 is understood by all, but region 2 does not respect region 5 and will accept nothing that comes out of there. This means that only 1 translation in the country will not work if we want to reach the whole country. So, a translation in 5 and 2 should be set up.