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International Translation Day

Friday 30th September is International Translation Day. In acknowledgement of this little publicised day, eSense Translations explores its history, the object behind its creation and how it will be recognised in 2016.

International Translations Day is set on the 30th September in honour of St. Jerome, who is known as the patron saint of translators. St. Jerome is most famous for being the first translator to translate the Hebrew version of the Bible into Latin. Starting in 382, it took him 23 years to complete. His work, however, wasn’t without its critics and, as is still common with translators today, other scholars had differing perspectives on how this most prominent text should be translated.

Celebrations around in and around this date have been promoted since 1953 when the International Federation of Translators (or FIT) was established. These events were rather ad-hoc for a long time, until 1991 when the Public Relations Committee of FIT launched International Translation Day on the 30th September.

The idea behind FIT’s International Translation day was to encourage members worldwide to come together to endorse the profession. They recognised at this time how increasingly important translation was becoming as borders were ‘tumbling’ worldwide. Interestingly, a similar theme is being promoted this year. The theme of 2016, ‘Connecting Worlds’, was proposed by the American Translators’ Association (ATA). It focuses on interpreters and translators enabling communication of important ideas across wide-ranging cultures. Science, medicine, business, technology, politics and more are all able to develop and expand when high quality, impartial communication is shared amongst people from differing backgrounds.

Each year, International Translation Day has adopted a different theme or slogan. These have ranged from the early “Translation – the vital link” in 1992 and “Translation, a key to development” in 1995 to a slightly different angle of “Good Translation Practices” in 1998. Alongside these chosen themes, the FIT has published relevant statistics or thought-provoking points to emphasize how translation plays a key role in all walks of life, for example in everyday product labels and medication leaflets. Here are some examples of the facts that they publicized in 1993:

“The works of Lenin have been translated more often than Shakespeare’s dramas (321 compared to 93).”

“Jules Verne was published in more languages than Karl Marx (238 against 103).”

International Translation Day is a day where the FIT celebrates the work of translators and interpreters. Awards are presented to translators and new members are welcomed into professional associations. Also, in many countries, interpreters, translators, and any language lovers are invited to gather to share their experiences and learn from each other.

In London this year, the event promotes a ‘Translation Masterclass,’ and seminars on alternative routes to publication and the state of translation in higher education. Furthermore, there were discussions on women in translation and also translation for the theatre.

Translation can often be an area that is overlooked by many. Have you ever considered how much work has gone into producing an instruction manual that is written in often many different additional languages to ensure the product is used safely? Most of us don’t give it a second thought. The idea of a day dedicated to recognising the important role of interpreters and translators is an excellent one. However, although many involved in the industry may be aware of this day, we at eSense Translations still feel it has been under publicised to the wider community. Therefore, if the subject of our blog has interested you, or if you have taken part in any of the activities involved in this day, we would love to hear about your experiences!


By Lorna Paice

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