Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.

– Anthony Burgess

This International Translation Day, let’s remind ourselves why translation matters.

In a world that is more connected than ever before, translation is a powerful tool for bridging gaps and fostering understanding among diverse cultures and languages. It is not just a matter of converting words from one language to another; translation serves as a gateway that reveals the many faces of humanity, highlighting the rich tapestry of our beliefs, experiences and identities.

Cultural diversity and expression

Translation has the remarkable ability to bring cultural diversity and different perspectives to the forefront. Every language is a window into a unique world of thoughts, values and traditions. When texts are translated, the nuances of these cultures are unveiled, allowing readers to glimpse the diverse ways in which humans express themselves and view the world.

The complexity of identity

Language is intimately tied to one’s identity. When people from different linguistic backgrounds interact, translation often becomes necessary to bridge the gap. In doing so, it reveals the complexity of human identity. As words are translated, we see how individuals and communities grapple with the challenges of maintaining their unique identities while engaging with the broader global community.

The power of empathy

Translation is not just about converting words, it’s about conveying emotions, stories and experiences. It’s about enabling empathy. By translating works of literature, news articles or personal narratives, we gain insight into the joys, sorrows and aspirations of people from different corners of the world. This empathy, fostered through translation, is a powerful tool for building connections and breaking down stereotypes.

Preserving and sharing heritage

Translation plays a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage and ensuring that it is not lost to the sands of time. Translators work tirelessly to bring ancient texts, myths and traditions into the modern world, allowing future generations to connect with their roots and appreciate the legacy of their ancestors. Through translation, humanity’s collective wisdom is passed down through the ages.

Compassion in humanitarian settings

Translators and interpreters often play a crucial role in facilitating communication between aid workers and those facing dire circumstances. They ensure access to critical services, provide relief and amplify the voices of marginalised individuals.

Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) is proud to support such causes on a global level through our language services. Since February 2019, STB has been working with PEN International, a worldwide association of writers, providing translation to help to unite voices that defend freedom of expression:

“Surrey Translation Bureau are instrumental in allowing us to communicate our message of promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression, both to our global membership and the wider public. Their important translation work enables us to be as inclusive as possible when raising awareness of our cause, advocating for writers at risk, and fostering collaboration across different geographies. The team are responsive, professional and a pleasure to work with.”

We are also an in-kind supporter for Translators Without Borders, a non-profit organisation providing translation services for humanitarian causes. We offer them pro-bono linguistic services for some specific language combinations to help them create awareness about key issues in some of the remote areas of the world.

STB and many of our peers from the language industry take great pride in being able to bring to the forefront and connect different cultures, perspectives and experiences. We are also committed to our role as a bridge between humanitarian organisations and the vulnerable, remote and marginalised communities.

To honour International Translation Day 2023, join us in recognising the crucial role that translation plays in our lives, and celebrate the multi-faceted nature of humanity.

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