Nuremberg celebrates the international translation and interpreting day

Nuremberg celebrates the international translation and interpreting day

The international translation day takes place every year on 30 September, the alleged day of St. Jerome’s death in 420. This is the reason why it is also called “St. Jerome’s day” in German-speaking countries.

St. Jerome, patron saint of translators, and the history of the translation day

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus (also known as Jerome of Stridon) was a church father and translated the Old and New Testament from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. The result is commonly known as the Vulgate and is considered the most important translation of the Bible in the Middle Ages. However, this was not his only work, as he was a prolific translator and author, whose aim was to reach his readers.

In 1991, the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT, founded in 1953 in Paris) proposed that the day of his death should become the worldwide memorial day and holiday for translators and interpreters.

Nevertheless, it was not until 2017 that the UN declared this day the international translation day. While there were only 27 supporters, 166 countries completely abstained from voting, among them all EU countries. Luckily, there is a consensus rule which states that a proposal is adopted as long as nobody votes against it.

Nowadays, this holiday is celebrated by translators and interpreters with different events, especially the Weltlesebühne has had some great ideas for this special day.

A day for Nuremberg translators and interpreters with great symbolic power

This year’s motto for the international translation and interpreting day, which is chosen every year by FIT, is: “Finding the Words for a World in Crisis”. This slogan stresses the importance of keeping connected instead of turning away from each other. Especially now, when the world is suffering from a pandemic and many governments are under high scrutiny, it is particularly important to support the communication between individual countries, as well as people. It is the job of each translator and interpreter – not only from Nuremberg – to fulfil this task truthfully and conscientiously. This year, the most important thing is that we do not become speechless but still find the right words, even if it sometimes is only possible by telephone interpreting, for obvious reasons.

Praise for all translators and interpreters

On this day, we want to think not only of St. Jerome but also of everyone who followed in his footsteps in this profession. There is not a single day, translators and interpreters are not required. Be it the subtitling or the synchronisation of the movie you are watching in the evening, the book that you are currently reading, the instruction manual of your new coffee machine or the advertising poster at the bus stop you pass every morning. It is very likely that at least one of these things was in the capable hands of a professional translator. However, this profession affects more than just the things we use every day. There is also a high demand in the economic and political sector for qualified language professionals, who make a major contribution and ensure that the world keeps on turning as we know it. They even make our world better by improving communication and letting borders seemingly disappear.

In this profession, mutual understanding is the top priority. This is why most translators and interpreters specialize in one or a few areas of expertise. While our Nuremberg-based specialist translation agency concentrates on technology, law, medicine and pharmacy, there are other specialist translators and interpreters who choose for example the beverage or food market or the related production as their subject area. However, there is one thing all translators and interpreters have in common, and it does not matter whether it relates to a literary, an advertising, a specialist or a certified translation: we all put our focus on delivering the best possible result for our clients.

By the way: Simultaneous interpreting celebrates its anniversary this year as well

The year 1945 marks not only the end of World War II but also the birth of simultaneous interpreting. This form of interpreting was used for the first time at the Nuremberg Trials and revolutionized the whole field of interpreting.

This new system was very sophisticated and helped speed up the conclusion of the Trials, which otherwise could have taken several more years.

The court proceedings were interpreted into four languages back then: English, Russian, French and German. For these four languages, there were three teams consisting of twelve interpreters each. Three out of these twelve simultaneous interpreters would then sit in one booth. However, these interpreting booths looked slightly different than those nowadays. They weren’t the soundproof booths of today, but rather small working places with glass walls, separating the interpreters from each other and the court room. With microphones and headphones, the first interpreting booth was built and with that, the whole interpreting sector was modernized. Furthermore, there were lights the interpreters could use to signal the speaker to slow down a little bit.

Hermann Göring, probably the most notorious defendant, recognized the situation he was in and said: “I don’t need a lawyer […], what I really need is a good interpreter.”