International Translation Day 2015: The changing face of translation and interpreting

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International Translation Day (ITD) was launched in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators. It is celebrated worldwide every year on 30 September, the feast day of St Jerome, who is the patron saint of translators. The day presents an opportunity for paying tribute to the work of translators, terminologists, interpreters and language practitioners in general who endeavour to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers and allowing great literature to be enjoyed far more widely. Dedicated events, seminars, workshops, conferences and symposiums are held across the world to celebrate ITD.
 
The day itself coincides with the feast day of St. Jerome, a Christian scholar and priest who was the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew, making it accessible to a far wider audience.
 
The International Federation of Translators, of which South Africa is a member, announces a theme for every year's celebrations, and this year's theme is 'The Changing Face of Translation and Interpreting’.
 
The theme for the current year comes at a time when the language landscape in South Africa has evolved considerably, not only in terms of translation, but also in terms of the legislative environment relating to languages. The Use of Official Languages Act, 2012, has been legislated. This Act requires all national departments, public enterprises and public entities to adopt language policies and establish language units to ensure that members of the public can access government information in the official languages of their choice. The adoption of such an Act at national level will give further impetus to the adoption of language legislation by all provinces and municipalities.
 
Another positive development within the language sphere is the adoption of the South African Language Practitioners' Council Act, 2014. This Act will regulate the language profession in areas such as the accreditation, training and employment of language practitioners. On the one hand, this will ensure that government, the private sector and members of the public who make use of language practitioners will receive professional service. For language professionals, on the other hand, it will mean that they will receive proper training, their profession will be protected, and they will receive recognition for their skills when they are employed.
 
Another notable area of advancement is the impressive technological innovations that have taken translation to a much higher and more sophisticated level; the so-called Human Language Technologies (HLT). The Autshumato Integrated Translation Environment is such an example. Funded by the DAC, it was developed to support translators in their work. By providing translators with computer-generated translations, glossaries and translation memories, it facilitates speed, consistency and ultimately work of high quality. Another technological achievement worth noting is the Terminology Management System (TMS), which was also specially developed for the DAC, to facilitate terminology management in accordance with internationally accepted standards and best practices.
 
Against the above background, there is no way the operations of translation and language practice in general would not evolve because they are refined and rightfully respond to the changing environment.
 
On 2 October 2015 the DAC will host an event that will be graced by past and present translators who will share their valuable experiences of the various eras in this precious profession. Translators, terminologists, interpreters and others will be invited to share in the celebration.