There is an enterprising chocolate shop a block away from my house. Every time I walk by it seems to be announcing a different celebration on their sidewalk sandwich board: “Happy Mother’s Day!” “Happy Teachers Day!” “Happy Entrepreneurs Day!” “Happy XYZ!” I didn’t know there were so many things to celebrate with a basket of chocolate.
We’re quite a ways off from September 30, but that day I hope to find “Happy International Translation Day!” colorfully scrawled in chalk.
In addition to celebrating mothers, teachers, entrepreneurs and others, translators are in need of celebration too. Their job is to bridge continents and bring people together; they are an important part of our globalized society. And when we celebrate translators, by extension we celebrate language, communication and the written word. That’s definitely something to celebrate!
International Translation Day is promoted by the International Federation of Translators (or FIT from its acronym in French) and is recognized by UNESCO. September 30 was chosen as the annual date since it is the feast day of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators, but International Translation Day is most certainly not a religious holiday.
In 2014, the theme of International Translation Day will be Language Rights. This refers to the role that translators, interpreters and other language professionals can, do and should play to help those who find themselves in a country whose language is not their own. That could mean a tourist who is charged with a crime, an asylum seeker who needs social services, a person working abroad who has a dispute with his employer or any number of situations where language (and culture) can present challenges – and consequences – if someone does not understand what is going on and how to protect himself.
Of course, I’ll have to check in with the chocolate shop on September 19 too. International Talk Like a Pirate Day might require some rum truffles.