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5 Ways to Celebrate International Translation Day

This past May, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared September 30 International Translation Day. Andrei Dapkiunas, the Assembly’s representative from Belarus, put it best: “This resolution is about the under-appreciated role of language in the life of our human society.”

International Translation Day may or may not already be on your radar. The day was established by the International Federation of Translators (FIT) in 1953—over sixty years ago—with the goal of celebrating and supporting the work of translators and interpreters around the world. Susan Bernofsky wrote about the history and importance of the day three years ago, and it’s still worth a read!

With September 30 fast approaching, you may be curious how you can participate. Here are just a handful of ways to celebrate this year.

1. Attend an event. Check to see if your city is planning any events on or around September 30 in recognition of translators. Some notable events include:

  • We’re hosting a translation happy hour on September 28 here in San Francisco. Share translations-in-progress with a room full of other translators or just come to listen and have a drink with us.
  • Austin’s Malvern Books is hosting a bilingual reading event on September 30. Guests include Tony Beckwith and translators Marian Schwartz, Eduardo Aparicio, Antonella Del Fattore-Olson, and Michele Aynesworth.
  • Duke University is hosting a Translation Studies Symposium on September 22.
  • London’s British Library is offering a daylong series of seminars on translation on October 2.

2. Make a donation. Many small presses and organizations promoting literature in translation are nonprofits and rely on the generosity of donors. If there is a small press or organization whose work you admire, consider donating this September 30. Any support you’re able to give goes a long way in supporting translators and the incredible work they do.

3. Subscribe to a journal that actively publishes literature in translation. Subscribers are the backbone of any publication. Through consistent support, they allow literary journals to take risks and publish new, talented writers and translators. Subscribe to Two Lines or any of these lovely journals.

4. Buy that book in translation you’ve been meaning to get for a while now! Buy books in translation, whether for yourself, friends, family, or colleagues. Not sure where to start? We recently put together a list of 8 forthcoming books by women in translation.

5. Spread the word. Translators have been celebrating International Translation Day for more than half a century. The UN’s resolution will help to raise awareness of the work of translators but now it’s up to all of us to help spread the word. Tell your friends about International Translation Day. Bring them with you to the event in your city or simply recommend a book in translation.