Language as a Fusion of the Common and the Unique

September 30 is International Translation Day, on the feast of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translation. He became secretary to Pope Damasus, who commissioned him to translate the Bible from Hebrew into Latin, which took him 15 years.

When the International Federation of Translators (FIT) was established in 1953, it launched the International Translation Day. The FIT decides the theme and publishes a poster, which is chosen from among a group of professional designers. Past themes have included “Translation: Bridging Cultures,”, “The Changing Face of Translation and Interpreting”, and “Translation and Diversity” in 2017. On May 24, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring September 30 as International Translation Day, to recognise that professional translation, “as a trade and an art, plays an important role in..bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to, developing and strengthening world peace and security.”

The 2018 theme is “Translation: promoting cultural heritage in changing times” recognising, as The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) notes, that “cultural heritage does not end with ‘monuments and collections of objects’. It includes intangible cultural heritage such as knowledge, beliefs, and practises concerning people, nature, and our relationship with the universe…An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.” The 2018 theme was selected to prepare for the FIT and United Nations collaboration in 2019, which was declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The American Translations Association conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 24-27 and will celebrate International Translation Day on September 28. The ATA wants to “change the way the world views translators and interpreters just by being bold and sharing more about our jobs. Debunking the unfortunate myths and misunderstandings about translation and interpreting will help pave the way to a better future for our profession.”

Conferences relating to International Translation Day also cover related topics. The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will host a colloquium to “highlight the importance of effective translation and interpreting in our global community” focusing on “how language disparities affect already vulnerable individuals (victims of human trafficking and sexual assault, victims of gang violence, and unaccompanied minors) as they navigate healthcare and justice systems.” Speakers include Ludmila Golovine, CEO of MasterWordServices, on “Interpreting for the Vulnerable: Language Access and Cultural Mediation for Survivors of Human Trafficking”, and “Ineffective and Inaccessible: A Closer Look at Language Access for Unaccompanied Children in the U.S. Immigration System,” by attorneys Carlos Iván Hernández and Katherine McCoy, who work with unaccompanied minors on the border. There will also be a workshop on “Human Trafficking and Sexual Assault in a Healthcare Setting: Best Practices for Identification and Intervention” by Manuel Higginbotham, president of the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators” and “Interpreting for Victims of Gang Violence in Central America” by Janis Palma, federally-certified judiciary interpreter.

The National Seminar on Translation and Nation was held at the National Translation Mission (NTM), Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru, on Sept. 26 and 27. The seminar “deliberate[d] issues about the role of translation in relation to nationhood, nation-building, transnational identities, globalised national etc.” Topics included “Machine translation and machine aided translation,” “Training and pedagogy,” and “Translation and social balance.”

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