Celebrating Translators and Interpreters: International Translation Day 2019

Image from the ATA’s video on International Translation Day.

International Translation Day has been celebrated on September 30 for decades, and coincides with the feast day of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists. He died on that day in 420 CE.

In 2017, International Translation Day received worldwide attention when the United Nations passed resolution 71/288 recognizing the last day of September as a day to specifically focus on the work that translators and interpreters do to facilitate communication. As the resolution states, it is a day that provides “an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals [playing] an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security.” The resolution recognizes the influence that language professionals have on “positive international public discourse and interpersonal communication.”

Translators and interpreters take this day seriously, celebrating their professions in various ways. The UN itself has seven events on the official schedule, taking place around the world, including at multiple locations in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and at UN Headquarters in New York, NY. The UN also sponsors a St. Jerome Translation Contest related to International Translation Day.

Various local professional associations are also celebrating. For example, the Colorado Translators Association has, in the past, commemorated this day by having members read favorite works in translation aloud at a well-known independent bookstore. This year, groups of translators in Colorado will meet with colleagues at five different locations throughout the state to show pride for a profession that brings the world together.

To mark the 2019 celebration, Translators without Borders, an international non-profit organization providing language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies, is holding a “Translation Marathon” for translators working in English to Arabic, French and Spanish. 

Many translators and interpreters also choose to share information about their chosen profession in their communities by presenting in schools and reaching out to teachers and students. The American Translators Association encourages its members to educate the public on the many facets of what it means to be a language professional. 

As a reflection of living in the 21st Century, many language professionals also celebrate ITD by posting information on social media about the role they see translators and interpreters playing in global communication. A quick search of the hashtag #InternationalTranslationDay shows freelancers, translation companies, NGOs and non-profit entities sharing their enthusiasm for the work professional linguists do. 

Continuing the focus on social media, the American Translators Association unveiled an animated video taking viewers through a day in the life of a translator and an interpreter. The two-minute video conveys what it is like to be a language professional so that business and the public at large gain a greater understanding of these career paths. The video will continue to be available on ATA’s social media channels (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram) and also accessible on ATA’s official ITD webpage.

As a day to raise awareness about translation and interpreting, International Translation Day 2019 helps pave the way for a better understanding of what the language professions have to offer the global community.

Eve Lindemuth Bodeux
Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is a dual French-American national and American Translators Association-certified French to English translator. She holds an MA from the University of Virginia (USA) and a second graduate degree from the Université de Lorraine (France). She is actively involved in professional associations and provides training on issues in translation and localization.


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