“Translation unveils the many faces of humanity” – Celebrating ITD in 2023
FIT Council is pleased to announce its chosen theme for International Translation Day 2023: Translation unveils the many faces of humanity.
To honour International Translation Day (ITD) this year, we wish to recognise the important role that translation plays in our lives, and celebrate our shared humanity.
Translation unveils a world of human experience, allowing us a window into cultures other than those we know. As climate and geopolitical shocks resonate across the globe, it also plays an important role in addressing threats to the peace and security, in diplomacy and multilateralism, sustainable development and humanitarian aid, human dignity and human rights.
The capacity for structured language is uniquely shared by humans, fulfilling our need to communicate with one another; to share information, ideas, and emotions. With thousands of languages spoken on the planet, failure to communicate effectively can be a major barrier to cooperation and mutual understanding.
Language also gives us the capacity for expression and connection, so essential for society and well-being.
Language rights are human rights – everyone has the right to use their language of proficiency. For many, this is only possible with the assistance of a translator or interpreter. Leaving no one behind means speaking to everyone, especially in times of hardship and crisis, where the need to understand what is going on around you, and be understood, can be a matter of survival. Translators and interpreters make this possible.
In humanitarian settings, translators and interpreters are a lifeline for the world’s most vulnerable people. Compassion and humanity are represented in the faces of the individual translators and interpreters who assist those fleeing crisis, whether caused by war, famine, disaster, or climate.
They accord those in crisis their humanity, giving them access, agency, dignity and the chance to connect. They are the human faces of advocacy and diplomacy, keeping communication flowing in the difficult circumstances.
Thanks to their grounding studies in the humanities, translators and interpreters understand deeper cultural and political issues, and issues of ethics, equity and tolerance. They care deeply about their work and the people they assist. During the height of the pandemic, interpreters stayed at their hospital posts to ensure patients could understand their doctors, and doctors could treat their patients, at risk to themselves. Culture, global development, security and lasting peace, are human concerns, and are well served by professionals who know and care about their role.
Translators bring people in opposite corners of the world face to face, through stories and the simple act of reading. Literary translation lifts the barriers of culture and language, to unveil the face behind the story, allowing the readers to see themselves reflected in the text, despite not speaking the author’s language.
Translation also helps to preserve cultural diversity and promote cross-cultural understanding. By making literature, art, music, and other cultural works accessible to people who speak different languages, translation helps to create a more interconnected and diverse world where people can appreciate and learn from each other’s cultures.
Each author has a unique voice, a unique story that no one else could create, it belongs solely to them. Similar individual scientific contributions might be made by two very different scientists, but no two authors would tell one story in quite the same way. Our capacity for creative and cognitive thought means each contribution is unique to the individual. If Shakespeare had never written, Hamlet, Desdemona, Romeo and Juliet would not have existed in the collective consciousness. While the themes are universal, the words, the characters, the peculiar plot twists of each story, are a unique expression of common experience that speaks to us all. We each have our own stories, and translation lets us each connect with universal human experience, through discovery of individual stories as they play out across the globe.
And in this 70th Anniversary year since the founding of FIT, it also gives us a chance to celebrate the many faces that make up the history of FIT. Since 1991, FIT has celebrated ITD, creating an annual theme as the basis for the celebrations.
During its 71st Session, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution A/RES/71/288, declaring 30 September to be International Translation Day, a day to be celebrated across the entire UN global network. It honours the contribution of professional translators, interpreters and terminologists in connecting nations, and fostering peace and global development and translation’s important political and cultural role in multilateralism and multilingualism.
So let’s celebrate all that our profession contributes to the global, cultural existence; let’s unveil the role of translation in all its facets. One FIT, many faces. Happy ITD!
Each year, translators, interpreters and terminologists celebrate International Translation Day on 30 September, the feast of St. Jerome. A unifying theme is chosen each year and a competition is held to design a poster for FIT members to print and use to promote the day and join together in celebrating our professions.
In 2017 we achieved an historical milestone for all professional translators, interpreters and terminologists, with the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopting Resolution A/RES/71/288, recognising the role of professional translation in connecting nations, and fostering peace, understanding and development. In the same resolution, the United Nations General Assembly declared 30 September to be UN International Translation Day, celebrated across the entire UN network.