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International Translation Day: Celebrating Diversity in 2020

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This year was not an easy one so far. With all the challenges the world has to face, we must be patient and be ready to accept each other from a distance. The language barrier, although weakened, is still in place, however, and is critical in the process of overcoming that distance. The translation specialists work day and night in order for the distance and communication barriers between the people not to grow. These specialists translate and interpret documents, speeches, localize websites, and help people to become closer in spite of the distance overall. Due to such high importance of translators and their work, the world celebrates the international day of translation specialists, also abbreviated ITD officially declared by the United Nations in 2017.

What Exactly is ITD?

International Translation Day, in a nutshell, is the global recognition of the translators’ work as well as the celebration of language diversity and unity of the world. Prior to the official announcement of the holiday, the English Translation Service at the United Nations only ran the St. Jerome competition that would hold a function similar to ITD. It would not only define the best translation professionals around the globe but would also widely recognize the importance of the profession. In addition to that, the competition remarks on the role of St. Jerome as one of the first and most important translators in human history. While the contest is still in place, the holiday of ITD attends to the aforementioned functions and is celebrated on 30 September each year.

Although this holiday was officially recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2017, its history is way longer. The idea of the holiday that would recognize translators and interpreters has been promoted by the International Federation of Translators since its establishment in 1953. The Federation aimed to ensure that the role of language specialists is recognized along with other important professions, such as doctors or teachers. Since 1991, the IFT promoted this idea actively and in 2017, the holiday was officially recognized by the United Nations. This day has not only special meaning but also some rules for celebration. Every year, the IFT defines a theme for the translators’ day, according to which the holiday is celebrated.

The theme assigned by the Federation also has a relevant purpose every year and is related to languages and translation. For instance, the first theme set in 2017 was the translation and diversity that marked the importance of the variety of languages in the United Nations and around the world. At the same time, the year 2018 promoted cultural heritage and evoked the dialogue between cultures in modern fast-paced times. The themes of the past years mostly aimed to signify the unity of the world despite its large diversity of languages spoken in different regions.

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The National Translator Association and Why ITD is Important

The last year, 2019, was all about the translation of indigenous languages. Throughout the world, there are a number of countries that took their start through colonization. The countries of America, Australia, as well as in Asia and Africa have been influenced by other nations at some point in history. To preserve the indigenous languages in those territories is one of the prime goals of all language specialists who see language as the means to transmit the culture rather than just a method of communication. This is especially important for the American Translators Association, which deals with such work quite often. Additionally, ATA actively supports the holiday by declaring a national translation month around September 30 every year to demonstrate the importance of the profession in the U.S. The association actively supports all the translators in the United States and all over the world by spreading awareness about the profession on social media.

This holiday is very important not only for translation professionals but also for the whole world. Language barriers often stand between us, yet, the translators are those in particular who help us overcome such challenges and become closer. The ITD celebrates not only the importance of the profession but also recognizes it as peacemaking and critical for the world’s unity. 

International Translation Day 2020: Theme, Its Significance & Celebration

In the face of COVID-19 global events, the International Federation of Translators recognized the importance of finding the words for the world in the midst of disaster. The Federation pointed out how important the translation and terminology work is for resolving the crisis and, thus, assigned this theme to underline the work of translators and interpreters as defining for the world’s peace and development. 

The IFT and the United Nations, hence, offered to celebrate not only the language diversity and the world’s peace and unity, but also the importance of keeping clarity and understanding between people, in spite of the challenging circumstances. With such symbolic meaning, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the translation day in 2020 despite the year being not dedicated to parties much.

Celebrating the ITD in 2020

Although this year is certainly not very much for going out, we still have to remember that translation unites people from different countries and that languages comprise a vast and extremely important intellectual and communication capital of the world. Besides, the celebration does not always mean partying and gathering the people you find appropriate physically. There are many other ways to pay tribute to translators and their work on this particular day. Here are some of the suggestions on how you can do that.

  • Idea #1. Spread awareness. One of the goals that IFT established for the world translation day is to make sure that people around the world are aware of what translators do. At the same time, the ATA suggested a nice way to mark the ITD by extensively posting the myth debunking material about translation and translators on social media.

  • Idea #2. Gather with your colleagues and friends using virtual conference. Modern technology allows communicating over long distances and if you have some multilingual friends, they might live in a different country. So, you would probably meet with them on Skype, Zoom, or other similar platforms anyway. Yet, doing this on such a special occasion as the translator day is twice as great!

  • Idea #3. Take a moment to thank your translation company. If you work for a translation agency, it must have a special meaning for you one way or another. So, gathering some of your colleagues would be a great idea. And if you work for a technical translation company, you will essentially celebrate two professions at once as you will be uniting translators using the technology.

  • Idea #4. Make a donation. There’s a number of organizations that promote the diversity of language, literature, and literacy. Oftentimes, those organizations are nonprofit and largely depend on donations. So, if you’d really like to do something good, you can support such organizations in your city, town, or region on September 30 this year.

  • Idea #5. Help medical workers. Doctors and nurses can be considered true heroes during the crisis we face with coronavirus. While helping these people with volunteering, donating, or simply supporting morally does not really address the interpreter day, it addresses this year’s theme. In case if you know any medical workers in other countries that need help, that would be only a huge plus.

  • Idea #6. Subscribe to a thematic journal. Being another form of donation, subscribing to a translation-themed journal will largely help its contributors who are most likely the translators. On top of that, you will also benefit as such journals usually publish some interesting and useful information about translation work.

  • Idea #7. Buy a book in translation that you wanted. This is perhaps the best way to support all those who participate in the creation of the book, the author, the original and your local publishers, the editors, and finally, translators.

  • Idea #8. Play Scrabble in another language. If you decide to unite with your friends physically, after all, playing Scrabble using the language you all or some of you learned, will be a great thematic party for the international translation day. Besides, you can also play this game online, if you don’t really want to go out.

  • Idea #9. Watch movies in other languages. Pretty much like playing Scrabble, throwing a movie party with your friends is also a great idea. To make it as epic as possible, watch a popular movie you all know in the language none of you speak, with subtitles.

  • Idea #10. Do some translation work yourself. In case if you are the translator yourself, that will certainly make your time on this special day productive. If not, you will certainly find out how it’s like to be a translator and see for yourself that, although it’s hard, it’s also fun!

Celebrate ITD 2020 With Us

The job of a translator or interpreter is very hard and responsible. So, do not waste an opportunity and congratulate your fellow translators, friends and family with the holiday. Use our useful tips for celebration and impress your friends with a deep knowledge of the International Translation Day’s theme, history and other peculiarities.