International Translation Day: What is lost in-between machine translations?

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Author : Hetvi Vashi

Languages are not just a tool for communicating self, but they carve self as a unique identity for expression. They blend together culture, identity, communication, social integration, education and development.

People all around the world speak in different languages based on their nationality, fluency and comfort for expression. Further on, language has inherently basked the authenticity of literature with scriptures, ancient books and manuscripts and scientific research written in different languages based on the script and linguistic knowledge of the subject by the researchers. So, translation as an art and profession is extremely essential to merge different backgrounds, culture, authentic information and even religious content all around the world.

History of International Translation Day

September 30 is celebrated as ‘International Translation Day’ on the feast of St. Jerome who is a Bible translator, particularly known as the patron saint of translators. International Translation Day celebrations have been going on since the institution of International Federation of Translators (FIT) since 1953. Though an official day for celebrating it was proposed in 1991. It was on May 24, 2017 that the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution announcing September 30 as International Translation Day. The countries who are a signatory part of the Draft Resolution A/71/L.68 were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Organizations such as International Association of Conference Interpreters, International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, Red T, World Association of Sign Language Interpreters have given their complete support to the resolution.

Importance of celebrating International Translation Day

It is the dire need to recognize the importance of the job of a translator in terms of connecting the nations and their authenticity together. The day is commemorated as a contribution of the translation community worldwide. It is way to extend the global reach for the profession of translation beyond the Christian countries. Translators play a key role in terms of connecting different countries and nurturing peace, development and understanding.

The 2019 theme for International Translation Day was “Translation and Indigenous languages” considering the significance a community language has and must be maintained with translation to preserve its authenticity and culture.

The 2020 theme for Translation Day is “Finding the words for a world in crisis”. Though the world has been hit by the Coronavirus crisis, FIT is concentrating on putting forth the importance of translators, interpreters and terminologists for managing on both national and international as well as local scale.

The ‘human touch’ in translation

With the advancement in technology, translation has been quite easy considering the applications used like Google Translation. Yet, what is missing in lines along the translated text given by the applications is the human touch of personalizing the meanings. A lot of jobs have been hit by the technology sector in translation department, but, the impact that a translator has in terms of understanding and providing the interpretation is quite humane and personalized. It simply adds to the beauty of communication, expression and the flow of conversation. This International Translation Day, let’s cultivate and imbibe respect for ‘multilingualism’ and the authenticity of indigenous languages to revive authentic literature and give it a global hand.

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