I translate, therefore I am
What do translators and interpreters do?
Today is International Translation Day, a celebration that was set up by the International Federation of Translators in 1953. This year is particularly special, as it has gained recognition from the United Nations.
Every year, 30 September commemorates the death of St. Jerome, the Bible translator considered the patron saint of translation given his role in defending the profession as a tool to make information more available to the people.
As translators and interpreters, we mediate between cultures, facilitate knowledge, build bridges of understanding and promote peace.
It seems like I’m describing a politician or social worker with refugees or immigrants. But that’s not what we do.
This post is for all the people who are not aware that translation and interpreting is part of their lives.
Because a translator doesn’t just translate books. And although we know our working languages inside out and love grammar, it doesn’t necessarily mean we can teach them.
Behind every great product is a good translator
Look around you. Most of the electronics you own, your television, computer, mobile phone and tablet, are made in another country and are available in your language because a translator (in this case a localization expert) has adapted them to your language and culture.
If you know how to programme your washing machine to make sure it doesn’t shrink your clothes or have worked out which dishwasher programme is best to make your glasses gleam, then it’s because you’ve read the instructions that were translated into your language by a translator. OK, I know that most people don’t actually read them but they’re still available.
If you’ve bought a faulty product and want to make a complaint or use the warranty, you can because a translator has translated all the documents that explain your rights as a consumer and your warranty’s cover.
And do you like films? Not everyone can enjoy films in their original language. Audiovisual translators make the films and series that everyone’s talking about more accessible for you to watch.
Behind your professional future and company’s success is a good translator or interpreter
They say the crisis is over, but many young Spaniards are still leaving the country to better their lives elsewhere. They often need to provide documentation in the language of the country where they want to work, which accredits the education or training they’ve received in Spain. They need a sworn translator for that.
Do you have your own company? Do you want to start doing business in another country? Your multilingual website is the best way to be seen. To ensure that your customers can find you in your target countries, you need a translator who, together with your SEO advisor, can help make sure your website appears at the top of your future customers’ search engine results.
Have you got a meeting with a foreigner investor, partner or client and you don’t feel comfortable with your language level? An interpreter will be your mediator. He/she will convey your message and ensure that you don’t put your foot in it by saying something that would be inappropriate in their culture.
Or imagine you’re on holiday and your wallet is stolen. You’ll need to report it to the police, but when you get to the police station, you don’t know where to start because you can’t understand anything. An interpreter will help you report the theft as quickly and comfortably as possible.
Translators and interpreters are essential and we need recognition
I think that these examples prove how important our work is (there are many more but I didn’t want to get too carried away). Being a translator or interpreter requires more than merely understanding another language: it requires translation degrees or diplomas and many of us do not stop there and continue learning about our specialist fields.
We may be invisible, but if you replace us with inexperienced people, you or your business could end up losing more than we do. Do you really want to take that risk?
Here’s to all the translators and interpreters! Happy International Translation Day!