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International Translation Day 2021: Date, Theme, History and importance of the day

Each year the world celebrates International Translation Day on September 30. This year, we thought we’d ask our translators to share a short video, explaining what being a translator means to them.

By Ishita Goyal
Published on :
International Translation Day 2021: Date, Theme, History and importance of the day

International Translation Day 2021: When you ask a translator why they chose their profession, many will cite their love of languages and the ability to help people communicate across languages. Others love the learning and research required by their profession because the content and topics they work on is always changing. Some fondly describe their job as a puzzle, where they have to search for the right word, and once it’s found, everything fits together perfectly.

International Translation Day 2021: History

Each year the world celebrates International Translation Day on September 30. This year, we thought we’d ask our translators to share a short video, explaining what being a translator means to them. Check out their inspirational insights below!

30 September has been celebrated worldwide as International Translation Day since 1991, when it was established by the International Federation of Translators (IFT). On this day, translators, linguists, students, writers and other members of the language industry conduct special activities to celebrate their profession, raise the awareness of the importance of their work and express solidarity with fellow translators worldwide.

St. Jerome, Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) was born around 347 AD in Stridon, an unidentified Roman town in the present-day Croatia or Slovenia and died in 420 AD in Bethlehem. Jerome was one of the most prolific Early Christian writers and translators and has been regarded as the patron saint of translators for centuries.

For this reason IFT chose his feast day, 30 September, as the International Translation Day.

Read more: 7 books you must read on this International Translation Day

Translation Profession Today

The modern, digitized and technologized world is marked by the swift and dramatic changes of the ways we communicate. The exchange of information has never been faster, the world has never been smaller, but the need for professional human translators has never ceased.

On the contrary, the role of translators in the globalized world is essential. While the communication is flowing in a heartbeat, it is the task and the duty of translators to make sure it is flowing in the right direction and that the precise meaning, intent and style of the message remain intact.

The way the things work has changed and it is going to change even more, but the essence of the translation profession remains the same – to facilitate the exchange of ideas between different languages and cultures in various ways and on different levels.

What kinds of challenges do translators regularly face?

One of the biggest challenges is “what is good quality?” Good quality always lies in the eye of the beholder. Of course, it includes proper grammar and spelling, but when does a translation sound good? What does sounding good mean? It depends on the company or brand.

As they work, translators have to take who they are—their own identities—and put them aside. They need to think like the customer’s target group. For example, one customer told SDL that their product was targeted at hipsters, so the translator had to consider what a French, German, American hipster thinks? The translator team didn’t have any hipsters, and in some countries hipsters don’t exist, so the translator had to figure out how they think and translate from that point of view. What makes a good translator is the ability to do a lot of research, think about end users who will use the translation and truly understand what each subject is about.

What skills are best suited to being a translator, beyond being good at languages?

The huge volumes for translation are one of the biggest challenges translators face today. Organizing the tsunami of work so the job gets done within the required timeframe demands a high degree of organization and efficiency, and technology helps make this happen. People don’t always realize that translating is a creative job. In order to have time to be creative, while still generating the amount of content required, translators today have to be tech-savvy and incorporate technology into the translation process.

Even with technology like machine translation and post-editing, translators still have the opportunity to create something. When post-editing, translators actually notice how unsophisticated the machine can be. Machine translation provides speed and efficiency but it will never replace trained human linguists. Humans engage with humans—and that’s why translators will always be needed.

International Translation Day 2021: Theme

2018− Promoting cultural heritage in changing times.

2019− Translation and Indigenous Languages during the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

2020− Finding the words for a world in crisis.

2021−United in translation.

This year’s theme is ‘United In Translation’. As the theme suggests, it will focus on world union with the help of translation. It is only because of translation that we’re able to decipher what we read and translators make sure we’re able to do that easily.

International Translation Day 2021: Wishes and Messages

1. Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature. Happy International Translation Day!

2. The translator is a privileged writer who has the opportunity to rewrite masterpieces in their own language. Happy International Translation Day!

3. We wish all translators a Happy International Translation Day!

4. The translator is the author’s accomplice. Wishing you a Happy International Translation Day!

5. Translators are horses changed at the posthouses of civilization. Happy International Translation Day!

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