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International Translation Day 2018

This Sunday may pass for some of you with the usual roast dinner at the pub or a relaxing afternoon with a book (and maybe even a glass) in hand, and so it might go unnoticed that it actually marks International Translation Day!

This event is held every year on 30 September and, in the words of the UN, aims to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security.

The last day of September was not selected at random, but rather because it is St Jerome’s feast day. St Jerome is thought to have been the first person to translate the bible into Latin and as such is considered to be the patron saint of translators and interpreters.

International Translation Day has been celebrated in some way since the International Federation of Translators (FIT) was set up in 1953, and more formally from 1991 onwards, when it was launched officially. The FIT council selects a different theme each year to focus on. Previous themes have included ‘Translators’ Rights’, ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ and ‘Connecting Worlds’. This year’s event is entitled ‘Translation: promoting cultural heritage in changing times’. This topic is aimed at exploring the idea that cultural heritage is more than our immediate thoughts of statues and buildings. It also encompasses knowledge, beliefs, customs and even our relationship with the universe. So perhaps its encompassing nature is why the art of translation is considered as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ by UNESCO.

This year’s event hopes to highlight the role that translation plays in creating and improving our understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of others, with the aim to help encourage mutual respect.

Just last year, the UN officially declared International Translation Day to be added to the list of events to be celebrated across the UN network, and also decided to adopt Resolution A/RES/71/288. And while that mix of letters and numbers means very little to us on its own, the resolution actually agrees that the role of professional translation is essential in ‘connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development’ – so is in fact a very welcome announcement for all translators and interpreters!

In celebration of International Translation Day 2018, the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (ITI) and the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) have joined together to encourage everybody to join in the conversation about the importance of translation and the positive impact of multilingualism worldwide. Have your say using the hashtag #ThisisTranslation.

Happy International Translation Day everybody!

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