Every year, on the 30th of September, language experts celebrate International Translation Day: the official annual recognition of translator’s and other language professional’s contribution to society.
International Translation Day is a relatively new addition to the United Nations’ calendar of International Days. In this article, we explain what the day is, why the UN celebrates it and how the 30th of September is a relevant date for language experts.
International Translation Day is an annual celebration of the contribution professional translators make to the international community. The United Nations General Assembly declared the first International Translation Day on the 24th of May in 2017 as it adopted resolution 71/288, The role of language professionals in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development.
International days and calls for a day to recognise the work of translators predate the UN, but the organisation has become a key factor in establishing days and other periods of recognition.
“The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, each with a theme, or topic. By creating special observances, the United Nations promotes international awareness and action on these issues. Each international day offers many actors the opportunity to organize activities related to the theme of the day.”
– Why do we mark International Days? UN.org.
The UN says that the themes of international days “are always linked to the main fields of action of the United Nations, namely the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of sustainable development, the protection of human rights, and the guarantee of international law and humanitarian action”.
These are themes that hold together and improve the fabric of society at the highest level, and the UN declaring an international day for translation illustrates just how important language experts are for global development, communication and cooperation.
Multilingualism is a core value within the UN and on a wider level, essential to the cooperation of peoples around the planet. Multilingualism champions the freedom of communication as a vehicle for cultural awareness, tolerance and the integration of diverse societies around the world – assets that would be impossible to achieve without the work of translators and other language experts.
“International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity 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.”
– International Translation Day; United Nations.
The United Nations is one of the world’s largest employers of translators and language professionals. It recognises translation as being “indispensable to preserving clarity, a positive climate and productiveness in international public discourse and interpersonal communication”.
The United Nations is not the only organisation that celebrates International Translation Day. The International Federation of Translators (FIT) and the American Translators Associations (ATA) are among the many organisations that publicly celebrate the day each year.
In fact, FIT promoted the idea of establishing an official day to recognise the role of translation many years before the United Nations did.
The 30th of September celebrates the feast of St Jerome, a Christian Priest known for (among other things) translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, opening the religious text to the masses.
A priest from north-eastern Italy, St Jerome was born from Illyrian lineage and his native tongue was the Illyrian dialect. He learned Latin in school and later became fluent in Greek and Hebrew, learning both from his studies and travels. Aside from translating most of the Bible into Latin, he translated parts of the Hebrew Gospel into Greek.
In the Catholic Church, a feast day celebrates the life and achievements of a saint. These days of celebration normally take place on the anniversary of the saint’s death. In this case, St Jerome died on the 30th of September 420 AD near Bethlehem.
As a result, the feast of St Jerome takes place on the 30th of September every year and the United Nations decided to honour his contributions by declaring International Translation Day on the same date.
There are many great ways to show language experts your appreciation for their work this International Translation Day, including sharing appreciation posts on social media: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
At translate plus, we are very thankful for the efforts and hard work our linguists put into all the exciting projects we work on together. From translating sensitive documents and technical data to cosmetic brand slogans, website articles and medical documentation, language professionals are one of the driving forces for creating a better and more connected world – as well as one without barriers.
If you’re a linguist and would like to join our network, please feel free to connect with us via Proz.com!