On Saturday, Sept. 30, translators from all over the world will have reason to celebrate.

The date marks International Translation Day, which gained official recognition from the United Nations in May.

The occasion celebrates the importance of language translation and shows appreciation for those who break down cultural and geographic barriers thanks to their linguistic work.

September is also recognized as National Translation Month.  

Celebrating Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

According to TAUS, the idea for International Translation Day was created by the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT) in 1991. Although the holiday was only recently recognized by the UN, FIT has been celebrating the occasion since its founding in 1953. It takes place on the same day of the Feast of St. Jerome, who is known for translating the Bible from Hebrew to Latin.

Each year FIT chooses a theme for the holiday, and 2017’s is “Translation and Diversity.” Last year’s theme was “Translation and Interpretation: Connecting Worlds.” 

FIT says on its website that there is a strong connection between cultural diversity and linguistic diversity, and states “translation is important both to maintaining and learning from a culture.”

GALA explains that in 1991, FIT formally adopted International Translation Day as a “secular celebration”

National Translation Month aims to promote translation scholarship, make translated literary works readily available and show appreciation for foreign language authors, according to its website.

“National Translation Month’s mission is to encourage readers worldwide to celebrate literary works in translation form a variety of international authors, both past, and present,” the site reads.  

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It’s Official

On May 24, 2017, The United Nations officially declared September 30 as International Translation Day. The General Assembly’s resolution states:

“…professional translation, as a trade and an art, plays an important role in upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, bring nations together, facilitating, dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security.”    

The resolution also acknowledges “the role of multilingualism in the activities of the United Nations and its projection to the world, as a core value of the Organization, and its pursuit as a means of promoting, protecting and preserving diversity of languages and cultures globally.”

According to Slator, the Foreign Ministry of Belarus noted almost 30 countries that helped to sponsor the resolution. There will be an official celebration at the United Nations New York headquarters that goes through Oct. 6. If you search for “international translation day” on Twitter, you’ll find several events related to the occasion.

Thank A Translator

Translators (and interpreters) play an invaluable role in global communication. Without professional linguists, our world would be a much smaller place.

With all the talk of Machine Translation (MT) lately, the services human translators provide can get lost in the hype. But it’s important not to lose sight of the human aspect needed in localization, and the amount of technical and linguistic expertise translators use every day to bring people together.

 So, if you get a chance, thank a translator this Saturday.

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Language Learner

Jake Schild

Jake Schild

A former newspaper reporter and native Minnesotan, Jake Schild is a staff writer in the marketing department at ULG.

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