30 September is the day translators, interpreters and language professionals around the world show solidarity and promote their profession.
Here is my rundown of interesting facts about International Translation Day (ITD).
International Translation Day
Past themes are as follows:
- 1991: No official theme
- 1992: Translation – the vital link
- 1993: Translation: a pervasive presence
- 1994: The many facets of translation
- 1995: Translation, a key to development
- 1996: Translators and Copyright
- 1997: Translating in the Right Direction
- 1998: Good Translation Practices
- 1999: Translation – Transition
- 2000: Technology serving the needs of translation
- 2001: Translation and ethics
- 2002: Translators as agents of social change
- 2003: Translators’ rights
- 2004: Translation, underpinning multilingualism and cultural diversity
- 2005: Translation and Human Rights
- 2006: Many Languages – One Profession
- 2007: Don’t shoot the messenger!
- 2008: Terminology – Words matter
- 2009: Working Together
- 2010: Translation Quality for a Variety of Languages
- 2011: Translation: Bridging Cultures
- 2012: Translation as Intercultural Communication
According to the South African Translators’ Institute. (Link correct as of September 2012)
Elsewhere around the world, translation organisations usually organise a range of training and networking events at national and local level.
The day coincides with St Jerome’s Day, who is recognised by the Catholic Church as the patron saint of translators, scholars and editors, as well as libraries and librarians. (Sounds like a portfolio careerist to me.)
Here’s a little about St Jerome:
St Jerome is known for translating the Bible from Aramaic and Hebrew into Latin.
You can find a good rundown of his life in the church and an interesting consideration of the translation challenges he faced here.
It certainly sounds like St Jerome was not a typical shy and retiring translator.
He was known for his ferocious temper and vitriolic pen, and for being an unoriginal thinker (ouch).
There is even some debate about the degree to which he translated the Bible himself.
In a very Da Vinci Code kind-of twist, there exist some fascinating claims that their names were removed from the annals of history because they were female.
That’s not to say St Jerome’s life was all work and no play.
He was, according to Butler’s Lives of the Saints, “no admirer of moderation, whether in virtue or against evil.”
He even gets a mention in the film Ghostbusters:
Dr. Peter Venkman: Have you, or any member of your family, ever been diagnosed schizophrenic . . . mentally incompetent?
Alice the Librarian: My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’d call that a big yes.
There are plenty of pictures batting about too, if you fancy wallpapering your workspace or photoshopping up a card or two (paying due attention to copyright, of course [ahem]).
ITD, St Jerome and Kumarajiva
Finally, many translators seem to confuse International Translation Day and St Jerome’s Day, but of course, the whole point of an international day is to open celebrations to all faiths and creeds around the world.
In that vein, Kumarajiva also warrants a mention. A Buddhist scholar and translator, he’s not a saint (for obvious reasons) and has no day to call his own, but is still someone many translators identify strongly with.
Regardless of who you are or where you are from, Happy International Translation Day!
Originally posted in September 2007. Last updated September 2012.