Have you ever wondered where, as humanity, would we be without translation? What our current world would look like without it?
Among many famous and beautiful quotes I have pumped up with, is still George Steiner’s the one that perfectly gives an answer to this question, the one that summaries it all:
“Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.”
Translation is the things you do and see happening around you almost every day: the news you’re reading from a foreign media, the language settings on your phone, some of your favourite books, the audio and subtitle options of your favourite Netflix series and movies. Translation is the signed language interpreter you see on one side of your tv, the interpreter that helps you communicate in foreign hospitals or courthouses, and the many translators, interpreters and language professionals that make international cooperation possible. Translation is undoubtedly what makes our world the way it is, and with us barely thinking about it.
Despite being so present in our daily life and having so much weight in today’s increasingly interconnected world, translation remains sadly unrecognized in the professional sphere. Seems shocking, but translation is still overlooked despite the crucial role translators play in society. And even though most of the time we are not even aware that the things we’re watching, or reading were originally produced in a different language, translators are not invisible. They deserve as much recognition, appreciation and representation as any other intellectual profession.
Besides, language professionals connect nations, and can foster peace, understanding and development, enhancing the flow of knowledge across languages and cultures. They are not just present in almost everything we do every day but are key to lead the way in complex situations, such as the recent pandemic. Communication during crisis time is vital, and translators have demonstrated their value and continue to do it over and over. The examples are, indeed, endless: international cooperation to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus; communicating new safety protocols to employees, or new financial regulations; interpreting at hospitals, remotely and via telephone; translating medical documents; helping patients and physicians communicate accurately, etc.
Today, 30 September, is International Translation Day, a day to remind society that translators, interpreters and language professionals are here shaping the world, that the need of communication is more important than ever, and that without them, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.