SA celebrates International Translation Day

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Department of Arts and Culture joins the world in commemorating International Translation Day which is being celebrated on Monday.

The day is being celebrated under the theme ‘Indigenous languages and their translation’.

The theme emphasizes and encourages the use of indigenous languages in translation as a means of giving them the status of economic value and of course for their survival.

This year, International Translation Day will be commemorated by recognising the importance of indigenous languages and giving focus to those indigenous languages that are losing some of its rich mosaic of cultures in an ever-increasing trend in South Africa.

The department said it is aware of the fact that losing a language is not more than just losing the mere words, but a loss of a particular unique cultural perspective and narrative embodied within a language.

“Translators bring cultural narratives alive as they relay them to a wider, cross-cultural audience,” the department said.

The celebration of International Translation Day offers an opportunity to draw attention to the importance of language practitioners, especially translators, terminologists and interpreters, whose invaluable contribution to communication more often than not remains unacknowledged and unknown.

“The department realises the critical importance of translation as a tool of national importance, which serves to promote communication between government, communities, individuals, businesses and government entities.

“The South African government further understands that without translators, communication with its citizens would be almost impossible and on an international stage, the chances of carrying out trade and solving massive international problems such as wars and mediating peace or conflict would be almost impossible,” the department said.

The department said translation plays a pivotal role in the development, promotion and preservation of indigenous languages, it is critical to sustainable development, inclusive governance, peace and social equity.

“The department is aware that if our indigenous languages are not developed and promoted, they are in danger of being extinct and it is very important given such a forward movement in demand for translation services that itself imperils indigenous languages.

“Throughout the world indigenous people are often on the margins side of the societies in which they live and without effective translations or translators, they are facing enormous difficulties or challenges in accessing services that mainstream citizens receive, especially those who come from the rural or remote areas,” the department said.

The department is also engaged in the development and promotion of indigenous languages through language technologies; where it is responsible for supporting multilingualism and enhancing access to information.

“It does so by giving financial support to projects that develop ground breaking systems and software such as spell checkers, machine translation systems, and terminology management systems of all official languages,” the department said.

The department further supports the development and the promotion of multilingualism or the use of indigenous languages, by developing specialised terminologies and technical vocabularies in all the official languages in various domains, such as Engineering and Construction; Road Safety; Pharmaceutical; Information Communication Technology; Indigenous Plants and Animals terminology.

In line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the department intends to bring together various activities in the language calendar viz., International Literacy Day, International Translation Day and the International Year of Indigenous Languages, by celebrating them jointly through a Language Indaba that will be held from 3-4 October 2019 at Birchwood. –