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The work of translators is seen as being of growing importance due to growing opportunities for international travel and globalization of trade markets, and International Translation Day is just one of the many ways that these folks deserve the support of those in their local and international community! 

History of International Translation Day

Although it was originally launched in 1953, International Translation Day is a relatively recent entry into the calendar of world events. Established by the International Federation of Translators, the annual celebration is an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of translators who endeavor to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers and allowing great literature to be enjoyed far more widely!

Over the years, International Translation day has been marked with a series of dedicated events, seminars and symposiums across the world, all revolving around the topic of translation, interpretation and languages. International Translation Day itself was set to be celebrated on September 30, the same day as the feast day of St. Jerome.

This date is significant to translators because St. Jerome was a Christian scholar and priest who was the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew, making it accessible for the first time to a far wider audience. In fact, in certain religious circles, St. Jerome is known as the patron saint of translators, making this the perfect day to celebrate!

Though International Translation Day has a history of more than 60 years, it wasn’t until 2017 that the day was officially recognized by the United Nations. It was then that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to declare the day. In addition, many different organizations also chose to observe the day, including the International Federation of Translators (IFT), the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, as well as several others.

Each year, the IFT chooses a theme for the International Translation Day that offers some insight and focus into the important ideals surrounding the day. Some of the past themes have included:

  • A World Without Barriers (2022)
  • United in Translation (2021)
  • Translation: Promoting Cultural Heritage in Changing Times (2018)
  • The Changing Face of Translating and Interpreting (2015)

How to Celebrate International Translation Day

International Translation Day offers a wide array of opportunities for celebrating and showing appreciation for the work done by translators all around the world. Get creative with plans for celebrating the day, big or small, including some of these ideas:

Read a Translated Work

One superb way to show support for International Translation Day might be to read a work of fiction, poetry, children’s books or non-fiction that has been translated from another language. Some of the most popular pieces of literature that have been translated include:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (originally in French)
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (originally in Italian)
  • The Bible by various authors (originally in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (originally in English)

Learn a Foreign Language

Whether picking back up a language studied in school or learning a new language in advance of travel to a country where it is spoken, one of the best ways to be supportive of translators is to experience what it is like to speak another language. Taking classes, using smartphone apps or hiring a tutor are all great ways to work on learning a foreign language in honor of International Translation Day.

Watch a Translated Film

A huge range of foreign films have been translated into English, whether through dubbing or subtitles. One idea for celebrating International Translation Day might be to watch a foreign film to show support for the translators and voice actors who worked so hard to make it accessible to a wider audience of people in the world. Choosing a movie with subtitles, where the original language can be heard, is an exceptional way to expose the brain to thinking differently about language!

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