International Translation Day 2015: Translating for Refugees

Happy International Translation Day!

This year’s theme is The changing face of translation and interpreting, celebrating the people “who make it possible for the world to be a global village”.

Right now, the need is very concrete: translating and interpreting for the exploding number of refugees in Europe.

The Refugee Phrasebook is a good place to start. It’s a multi-lingual free, open-access resource, including medical and legal information in lots of languages, and in pictograms like the ones shown here. It is being updated all the time via very active Facebook group.

Translators without Borders is looking for people who know Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Farsi and Greek to join their rapid response team.

I’m just getting involved with some very local initiatives. You don’t have to be a translator or interpreter to do that. In Finland the Red Cross is responsible many reception centres and is always looking for volunteers to just spend time with new arrivals and help them learn the culture and language.

And of course, all three organisations need donations to support their work.

St Jerome, the patron saint of translators, would have approved. In 410 AD refugees fled to Africa after the sack of Rome. Jerome left his translator’s desk and got to work to help. He wrote:

“Who would have believed that the daughters of that mighty city would one day be wandering as servants and slaves on the shores of Egypt and Africa, or that Bethlehem would daily receive noble Romans, distinguished ladies, brought up in wealth and now reduced to beggary? I cannot help them all, but I grieve and weep with them, and am completely absorbed in the duties which charity imposes on me. I have put aside my commentary on Ezekiel and almost all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds; instead of speaking saintly words, we must act them.”

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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2 comments on “International Translation Day 2015: Translating for Refugees
  1. Petra says:

    Beautifully said 🙂

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