Why do we celebrate International Translation Day?

International Day of Translation is celebrated on September 30, a day dedicated to recognizing the valuable work that translators do. All over the world, activities related to translation are organized. But do you know why this day is celebrated precisely? Let’s do some history.

Some say that translation is the oldest profession in the world because since human beings from different places have felt the need to communicate, they have required help to understand each other. In any case, we are often unaware of the fundamental role that translators perform and that no machine can ever replace. That’s why they deserve to have a day of their own!

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In this sense, the International Translation Day (in English International Translation Day) has been celebrated since 1991 at the initiative of the International Federation of Translators (FIT). This organization brings together 100 associations representing more than 80,000 translators from 55 countries and has the mission to promote professionalism and improve the working conditions of people engaged in translation. To celebrate this day, the FIT chose September 30, which is not by chance San Jerónimo de Estridón, considered the patron of translators.

But who was Jerónimo de Estridón?

Jerónimo de Estridón

Jerónimo de Estridón was a scholar who lived in Rome in the fifth century and devoted much of his life to translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. This allowed the Romans to understand the Sacred Scriptures because St. Jerome translated them into the “vulgar” language, that is, the Latin that people spoke. That is why his translation of the Bible is known as the “Vulgate” and it was the official text of the Catholic Church until 1979 when a newly revised version was approved. That’s a job that leaves its mark! Apart from his work as a translator, Jerónimo de Estridón became famous for running away from the luxury of the church in Rome and spending the last 35 years of his life in a cave in Bethlehem, near where Jesus was born. He died on September 30 of the year 420, at age 80, a very old age for the time.

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Of course, there are many other famous translators. For example Martin Luther, the Germanic friar who continued the task of St. Jerome, translated the Bible into German so that the people could read it directly without depending on the priests (at that time the Bible only existed in Latin, in the version “Vulgate” that San Jerónimo translated); the British poet Alexander Pope, known for his translations of Homer’s texts; or Sacajawea, the American Indian who guided explorers Lewis and Clark in their exploration of the northern United States and who is considered one of the most famous interpreters in modern history. But none of them has reached the recognition of Jerónimo de Estridón, and that is why the International Translation Day is September 30.

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How is the Day of the Translators celebrated?
Each year, the International Federation of Translators chooses a slogan and a poster for the International Day of Translation, and invites all who wish to celebrate this day through all kinds of activities. The 2016 motto is “Translation and Interpreting: Connecting Worlds” (which we can translate as “Translation and interpretation: connecting worlds”). This motto aims to highlight the role of translators in facilitating communication between people in an increasingly globalized world, for example in areas such as science, medicine, business, law or technology. From this message, a large number of activities are organized around the world, always related to translation.

For example, this year the British Library holds a day of conferences and seminars for translators and language enthusiasts; In Germany the Goethe Institute website collects more than 40 events throughout the country; and in France, the European Commission organizes original “quick quotes” in Paris between experienced translators and beginning translators and other people interested in languages.

Unfortunately, there is no site that gathers an agenda with all the activities planned for the International Day of Translation, although the Ministry of Education devotes a page to the celebration.

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So if you find out about any activity related to the International Translation Day 2016, encourage yourself to participate. It will allow you to know a little better how is the important work that translators do so that we can all communicate better and share knowledge in an increasingly global world.

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