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Celebrating International Translation Day 2021

How professional translators help us connect globally

Although the United Nations only formally recognized International Translation Day a few years ago, polyglots around the world have honored the importance of translators for millennia. The day itself—September 30—was chosen to overlap with the Feast of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators in multiple Christian denominations, who is credited (although with some uncertainty) with a Hebrew-Latin translation of the Old Testament.

Translation itself, of course, has a history much longer and richer than that one religious text. Many of us are familiar, for example, with the Rosetta Stone, a three-language tablet surviving from 196 BCE. Two millennia prior, the Epic of Gilgamesh was at least partially translated. Sharing stories and news across geographies and cultures via translation (and interpretation) likely precedes the proof of these processes that humans have discovered.

In all those years, the goal of sharing information has not changed. What and how we translate, however, has changed rapidly with increased globalization and technological innovation.

How translation was, is and will be

In 1953, six national translation organizations formed the International Federation of Translators. They established the International Day of Translation in 1991 after several decades of congresses that discussed and set guidelines for professional translator training, qualifications and rights.

Teaching the basics of grammar rules and vocabulary to computers created a limited capacity for communication from mechanical sources. The advent of machine learning marked the start of a translation revolution. The ability to “think”—artificial intelligence—and the field of natural language processing has increased the production of translations.

For some, these machine translations spark fear of the loss of the art of translation. But with the right structure, the combined power of professional and machine translation can maximize the power of human touch on language.

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Celebrating translators

The personal experiences and skillsets of professional translators take decades to acquire and hone. Top talents have fluency not just in a particular language pair but in an industry as well. Lionbridge’s extensive community includes lawyers, doctors, scientists, programmers, engineers and more. You can meet a few of our community members here

This year, the “United in translation” themed day is especially important to our Pride. It is an opportunity to recognize the importance of maintaining human connections after nearly two years of pandemic-induced physical isolation. It also coincides with our 25th anniversary—a blink in the lifetime of translation itself, but eons ago when it comes to leaps in translation tools and accessibility.

Decades of experience

Some of our Lions have been with us since the very beginning, when we still stylized our name as L10NBRIDGE. The company’s look may have changed since then, but our goals remain the same: Breaking barriers, building bridges.

Communication has never been more essential. It can truly save lives. From information about vaccines and personal protective equipment to staying in touch with friends and family while remaining six feet (and sometimes six countries) apart, we rely on language to connect us.

Today Lionbridge recognizes and thanks all the members of our translation community and the translators we have yet to meet

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