This post was most recently updated on September 20th, 2023
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
In less than three weeks we will be celebrating International Translation Day. Do you celebrate it?
On May 24, 2017, the General Assembly declared 30 September as International Translation Day. The chosen day is the date of death of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered the patron saint of translators.
Every year, the United Nations and many different educational organizations invite their staff and students to compete in a contest. On this day, translators, linguists, writers, and members of the language industry conduct special activities to celebrate their profession. Not only that, but this event holds to raise awareness of the importance of their work and express solidarity with translators worldwide.
Every year, on September 30th (International Translation Day), Day Translations broadcasts its award ceremony. At this event, available on their YouTube channel, they celebrate the teams, individuals, and projects that are taking the language industry into the future. Click to watch last year’s Awards.
Celebrate International Translation Day
In preparation for International Translation Day, here are a few ideas on how you might celebrate the occasion:
Thank the company for providing your International translations
Some people don’t really understand that translation isn’t just about words, but rather what words are about. And it’s not only about being bilingual or multilingual.
A translator’s profession includes decades of education and effort. This includes developing crucial subject matter expertise and paying close attention to regional and cultural differences—factors that stand at the very core of what effective and accurate translation entails.
In my 7 years as a freelance translator, I have rejected many clients who want a good result and fast delivery, at a cheap price. You know, a translator’s job goes beyond simply translating words from one language to another. We are also responsible for interpreting the heart of the original message as accurately as possible into a completely different language. A person who writes the source document writes it with a specific intention—a translator needs to consider this and recreate that meaning exactly as it was intended while also ensuring the translation meets cultural needs.
So when the time comes to translate your project, keep in mind that a translator’s job is far more complex than simply “converting” words into another language. Their job entails an impeccable understanding not just of language, dialects, and grammar, but of the source document’s subject matter, as well.
Make a donation
Many small presses and organizations promoting literature in translation are nonprofits and rely on the generosity of donors. If there is a small press or organization whose work you admire or know, consider donating this September 30. Any support you’re able to give goes a long way toward supporting translators and the incredible work they do.
Buy your translation book
Reading foreign books is a wonderfully useful way to improve your language skills. Whether you enjoy language instruction books or recreational reading in your target language, books can help you learn new words, improve your comprehension skills, and more.
Celebrate International Translation Day by buying books in translation, whether for yourself, friends, family, or colleagues.
Start learning a new language
Besides bragging rights, the benefits of learning a new or foreign language are profound. Studies suggest learning another language can improve brain function, concentration, and memory. And one study even implies that it can slow the rate at which your brain ages.
Being able to communicate in another language promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others—with studies showing that children who have studied another language are more open toward and express more positive attitudes toward the culture associated with that language.
In today’s increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, proficiency in other languages is a vital skill that gives you the opportunity to engage with the world in a more immediate and meaningful way—whether in your neighborhood or thousands of miles away—while better preparing you to compete and succeed in the global economy.
Watch a foreign film
Foreign movies give you a great opportunity to pick up language skills. I’ve added so many words to my English vocabulary through watching Western movies when I was 10. Subtitles allow me to learn new words, and listening to the dialogue helps me grow accustomed to the sound of the other language. It can also be useful to watch other language films subtitled in a second language.
Listen to songs in different languages
My father likes to listen to 70’s and 90’s songs, so I grew up knowing Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Queen, Backstreet Boys, and Westlife. I have three once-in-a-lifetime favorites: Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Michael Jackson. By listening to their songs over and over, they teach me how to learn English in a fun way. Even now, listening to Western songs has become my night routine.
Listening to songs in a language you do not speak can help you actually learn that language. You may find that you are listening and experiencing the music differently because you don’t necessarily understand what is being said. This can also be a great exercise in trying to figure out what the song is about (it’s a good brain exercise).
Another benefit is that by listening to music that is not in your native language, you may learn about different musical styles. On that note, you can also help break down the barriers between cultures. Throughout history, art and music have had the capacity to unite others, especially in the modern world. Even if we don’t get along all the time, music is one thing that we can all have a shared commonality and appreciation for.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where there was a language barrier, share your experience on social media. Use #InternationalTranslationDay.
How will you celebrate International Translation Day? Share your plans and ideas below. Oh, and if you missed the date, don’t worry. Every day is a good day to celebrate translators and interpreters.