“Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!” Let’s shout out and let the world know what International Translation Day is all about. Have you ever heard of International Translation Day? Established and launched in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators, this annual event celebrated on 30th September (although this year the celebration will fall on Friday 28th September due to 30th falling on a Sunday), is a rather recent addition to the celebration of world events. And what does this day honour? Quite simply, it puts the world of translation and interpreting in the spotlight and shines the light on the efforts of translators and interpreters across the globe who help people communicate effectively internationally, by breaking down language barriers through their work. It also crosses cultural boundaries; bringing cultures together face-to-face that previously would never have crossed paths, but at the same time helps the world remain diverse.
But what is translation all about? Translation is the written form of communicating from a source language such as English to a target language, e.g. French. For instance, this tool enables books written in one language to be read in another language, thus breaking open the literary world and transporting it to all corners of the globe. What’s more, since the world has become more globalised, translation is a useful tool to assist in communicating to international target markets through the translation of engineering manuals, or the translation and localisation of business websites. The world is your oyster! Let’s not forget a part of this world that has equal stardom, the verbal side of translation, interpreting. Interpreting plays a leading role on many a political, environmental, business, social and economic stage, allowing governments to communicate effectively, enabling social services to help refugees for example, feel less overwhelmed in a country that isn’t their own, or businesses exporting globally to speak to their international suppliers. The list is endless!
So, what happens on International Translation Day, apart from putting the name ‘translation and interpreting’ in lights and promoting this profession? This recognised annual event takes to the world stage and brings people together via dedicated translation and interpreting events, seminars and symposiums all over the world. The word is also spread via a flurry of social media across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram (#InternationalTranslationDay). And why is the occasioned marked on 30th September? Well, what better way for the profession to feel like it’s won The Oscars for one day than on the feast day of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators! This Christian scholar, St. Jerome, allowed the bible to gain a far wider audience through his translation of the text from Hebrew into Latin.
Akin to World Environment Day, International Translation Day celebrates the event with a specific theme which is decided by the ‘Fédéderation Internationale des Traducteurs’ (FIT) / International Federation of Translators. This year 2018’s theme touches upon ‘Translation: promoting cultural heritage in changing times’ / ‘La traduction : agent de promotion du patrimonie culturel dans un monde en mutation’. The theme highlights the role of translation in promoting an “understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities [that] helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.” According to UNESCO, “Cultural heritage [also] does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.”
The aim of this event is to help people recognise that the world is forever changing due to climate change, environmental damage, political upheaval and economic uncertainty, which can create a lasting impact. This day is to help promote and protect our cultural heritage and for the world to understand the importance and value of translation and how it shines a positive light on our world. As sure as night and day we must continue to protect our cultural heritage in these changing times!
International Translation Day is a day for translators and interpreters to take pride in their profession and for this type of work to be recognised as important in this increasingly globalised world. Let’s shoot translation and interpreting to stardom, let’s shout out and let the world know what International Translation Day is all about. Let’s recognise the importance this line of work has throughout this multicultural world!
“Knowing how to speak two languages is not the same thing as knowing how to translate. Translation is a special skill that professionals work hard to develop.” (Linguist, Arika Okrent)
By Madeline Prusmann, Project Manager, September 2018
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