26 Sep International Interpreters and Translators Day 2014
I know. The official name is “International Translation Day”. I changed it. I just have this thing about “interpreters” being included whenever anyone talks about “translators” and “interpreting” being understood as a part of “translation” in the title of such an important day. We all know those are two different things, and cringe whenever an interpreter is called a translator on television, for example. And since the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT) has included interpreters in this celebration since at least 1994 according to The history of International Translation Day, I feel the poetic license is justified.
Independently of any religious affiliations any of us may have, the figure of the renowned bible translator, St. Jerome, has been a historic icon for both translators and interpreters. Since September 30 is St. Jerome’s feast day in the Christian calendar, FIT chose this day back in 1991 as a day to celebrate translators and interpreters and “to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community.“ This day also gives all of us an “opportunity to display pride in [our] profession.“
As interpreters (and translators) we seldom get such a perfect soapbox from which to address those who are not members of our profession. On International Interpreters and Translators Day we can create banners, flyers, booklets, press releases, brochures, newspaper articles, even hold book fairs, conferences, and all sorts of events to create awareness about who we are and what we do. We can educate without coming across as a self-important and presumptuous bunch. We can use the theme chosen by FIT for that particular year, or make up our own, based on the specific reality of our workplace.
A few years ago the interpreters for the District of Puerto Rico set up a table at the entrance to the courthouse (with our Clerk of Court’s permission, of course) with a large banner on the wall identifying the special celebration, and handed out informational brochures to everyone who walked by. The brochures gave answers to the most common questions asked by the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis: What do you need to become an interpreter? How does one get certified? And, of course, we had information about the differences between interpreters and translators, plus all the basic “What-When-Where-Who-Why-&-How”. The advantage of creating printed materials is that they can be used over and over. Whenever someone comes to the front desk at the Clerk’s Office looking for information about becoming an interpreter, we have something already printed to give them. To follow-up on that, we have also created PDFs that can be downloaded from our Court’s webpage.
Last year we worked together with our Clerk so she could send an electronic message to all personnel telling them about our special day and in which she thanked us for the services we provide to the Court. It was very moving to get all the congratulatory messages from the people with whom we work every day, showing their appreciation for what we do.
This year we are sharing a message with a link to one of the videos available online by Siegfried Ramler, one of the surviving interpreters from the Nuremberg trials, which were the precursors of modern-day simultaneous interpreting in court. We are also inviting fellow interpreters and translators from other government offices in our same building and our freelance contractors to come join us for a small breakfast at the office.
By holding these small celebratory events we not only educate those who are not members of our profession, but we also fortify our presence as professionals in our own right among judges and attorneys, law enforcement and law clerks, other government offices’ staff and the general public.
If you are holding a special celebration this year for International Translation Day, please share by posting it in the “comments” section below. And if you’re not, maybe you will pick up on someone else’s idea and come up with your own great event. There is still time. September 30 is next Tuesday.
Happy International Interpreters and Translators Day!