Oopse… that was yesterday, on September 30, 2014, the Feast of Saint Jerome, according to the Saints’ Days of the Gregorian calendar.
Saint Jerome was the first to translate the Old Testament of the Bible from Ancient Hebrew to Latin, in the year 405 AC, at a time where translations of the bible existed only from Greek (translated from Hebrew) to Latin. Thus, it is in his capacity as first translator of the bible that Saint Jerome is considered the Patron Saint of Translators, in a Christian calendar tradition that assigns patron saints to just about every profession. For example, Saint Nicholas (December 25) is Patron Saint of bakers, Saint Francis (October 4) is Patron Saint of ecologists, Saint Matthew (September 21) is Patron Saint of bankers, accountants and stockbrokers, Saint Lucy (December 13) is Patron Saint of writers and electricians (!), and so forth for every day of the Gregorian calendar, commonly used in the Western world.
International Translation Day was launched by the IFT - International Federation of Translators, a European-based organization founded in 1953 that regroups more than 100 professional associations of translators, interpreters and terminologists worldwide, including the American Translators Association. The IFT thus represents more than 80,000 translators in 55 countries.
Each year the IFT selects a theme for International Translation Day. The 2014 theme was “Language rights: essential to all human rights”. Indeed this is the idea that Human Rights to dignity, freedom, justice, health and peace for all human beings, as set forth in the provisions of the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, are contingent upon effective communication. In other words, it is impossible to uphold and defend human rights without the ability to communicate in a language that is mutually understandable. Take the case, for example, of immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, tourists or foreign workers, who lose their linguistic rights in courts, hospitals or government offices when they are unable to defend themselves, or express themselves or explain their situation in the language into which they are thrown.
The IFT thus calls for a greater awareness of the need for professional linguistic services, to avoid the tragedies of injustice, imprisonment and irreversible damages to health arising in those situations where people cannot express or defend themselves in a language that is mutually understandable.
Mark your calendars for International Translation Day on September 30, 2015 with another theme. And in the interim, spread the word!
International Federation of Translators