Did you know there are more than 7,000 languages spoken all over the world? It’s important to remember that many languages also have different dialects. Here, the translation profession contributes to the communication of people who speak different languages and to the accessibility of information.
Every year on September 30th, we celebrate the great effort of professional linguists because, thanks to them, we can bridge different geographies and cultures. The theme for World Translation Day this year is “A World Without Barriers.” But before we go into further detail, let’s briefly talk about the history of World Translation Day.
History of World Translation Day
Since its establishment in 1953, the International Federation of Translators (FIT) has celebrated translators and their efforts on September 30th, St. Jerome’s Day. September 30th was officially declared World Translation Day by the United Nations (UN) Resolution 71/288 on May 24th, 2017. With this decision, the UN also recognized the role of translators and interpreters in connecting nations and promoting peace.
So why September 30th? It is also known as the Feast of St. Jerome. St. Jerome was the first person to translate the Bible and is therefore regarded as the saint of translators. In his memory, the tireless work of translators and all linguists is celebrated on this day.
A World Without Barriers
The language barrier is the most significant communication obstacle for different cultures and geographies. Today, translators and interpreters contribute to the accessibility of information and the flow of communication between nations and people. So in this new world where technology is so advanced and we often talk about machine translation tools, how much do these tools contribute to building a barrier-free world?
Machine translation tools are not used today solely for translating technical texts. For example, thanks to the Google Translate app, you can easily translate the menu and order meals when you go to a restaurant abroad. It provides a great convenience to overcome the language barrier in everyday conversations. However, it is not always possible to call the output a translation.
Sometimes, this convenience may be negatively reflected in the translation profession. Yes, when you go abroad, you can easily ask for directions with these tools, but this is not equivalent to a translator’s effort. Due to the convenience of machine translation, some may think, “Google Translate has improved a lot; there is no need for translators.”
It is a fact that machine translation helps to overcome obstacles in everyday life. In fact, contrary to popular belief, these tools are not the enemy who will take away translators’ jobs but an assistant that facilitates their work. However, to communicate accurately, it is necessary to overcome not only the language barrier but also the cultural barrier. That’s where translators come to the rescue.
Let’s say you traveled abroad, had an accident, and had to go to the hospital. However, you do not speak a common language with the healthcare professionals there. Would you entrust your health to these machine translation tools in this situation? Or would you consult medical translators who can provide you with the safest service?
Let’s look at another example. You are applying for a job overseas and need to certify some documents at the notary. If you say, “I translated these documents using Google Translate; just go ahead and certify them,” would the notary oblige?
Let us appreciate the role of machine translation tools in building a barrier-free world, but let us not underestimate our translators’ efforts, technical knowledge, and training. We still need them, and we will continue to do so in the future, contrary to popular belief.
As the Mirora team, we celebrate all translators and interpreters who work tirelessly and thank them for their efforts. We are building a world without barriers for you all!