As we celebrate International Translation Day 2013 under the theme Beyond Linguistic Barriers – A United World, we should pause and consider what a valuable role translators, interpreters and terminologists play in making the concept of the “global village” a reality. Those of us working in this profession can take pride in that thought – we do indeed unite the world and make it possible for people from different ends of the earth to communicate, to understand one another at a multitude of levels and to avoid unnecessary conflict.
This year’s theme is particularly timely, as 2013 is the first year in the UN International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, which runs from 2013 to 2022. Are we not fortunate – we have a whole decade in which to highlight and promote the vital role of translators and interpreters in bringing people together under the banner of the United Nations! What an opportunity to put our profession in the spotlight!
In the resolution establishing the Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures last December, the UN General Assembly acknowledged and reaffirmed the pioneering role and long-term work “to promote dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples” by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which has been appointed the lead agency for the International Decade. In this role it is expected to mobilise a wide variety of actors to help build bridges and promote mutual understanding conducive to harmonious coexistence among the peoples and countries of the world. UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova has commented that the “International Decade provides a unique occasion to reaffirm the ideals of a plural humanity where cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue are mutually reinforcing” and that activities during this Decade “are expected to nurture social inclusion and intercultural dialogue in order to improve the world’s global understanding”.*
This all dovetails perfectly with what we as translators and interpreters do, and as a consultative partner of UNESCO FIT will use this International Decade to promote the profession as much as we can. Let us begin on 30 September by all raising our voices in unison around the world to salute translators and interpreters everywhere for their work in breaking down linguistic barriers in all sorts of settings and thereby helping to unite the world!
PS: Please send the FIT secretariat a short report and some photos from your 2013 ITD celebration for our website and Facebook page!