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Glendon’s International Translation Day Examines Quality Translation for a Variety of Voices


The Glendon School of Translation, in collaboration with the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) held its annual celebration of International Translation Day (ITD) with a record attendance on September 30th, offering a new look at translation from other than Canada’s two official languages.

Right: Maha Takla

This year’s theme of “Quality Translation for a Variety of Voices”, chosen by the International Federation of Translators (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs) – IFT/FIT – intended to shine a spotlight on translations done by professionals who work with non-official languages. Professor Andrew Clifford, director of the Glendon School of Translation, welcomed and introduced the invited guest speakers, who represented an interesting array of cultural backgrounds, with Certified Translator (C. Tran.) Maha Takla, who outlined the challenges of working from Arabic to English, and Edward Liu (C. Tran.), who spoke about his experiences in working from English to Chinese.

Left: Edward Liu

Two Canadian First Nations translators, Maya Chacaby and Albert Owl, opened a window on the particular challenges they face as professionals, working with the Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) language. In addition to translating, Chacaby is currently teaching a course in the Anishinaabemowin language in Glendon’s Linguistics and Language Studies Department, while Owl works with the same language as a translator and interpreter. Both confirmed that, while most translators of languages other than the two official ones report being underpaid for their difficult work, they as First Nations professionals often work without any remuneration.

Left: Maya Chacaby and Albert Owl

The evening’s audience was treated to a surprising experience, when Albert Owl told an entire story in the Anishinaabemowin language. It was a real-life illustration of the discomfort felt by people who are addressed in a language they don’t understand, underlining the important role of translation. It was also an opportunity for those present to hear and honour a language spoken on this continent for countless generations before the arrival of French and English.

Chacaby emphasized the different issues confronted by First Nations professionals, whose work represents different goals from other languages, since it is the only way of recording and keeping alive a language that has no official status in the country. “The value of translation for our culture is clear”, said Chacaby. “It is a tool to ensure that our children see our language, hear our language, and remember our language. We dream of the day when this work will be recognized for its full value."

Right: Gabriele Sauberer

Many in the audience were visibly moved by Owl’s and Chacaby’s presentation and everyone, whatever their linguistic background, identified with their wish of keeping their culture and language alive and handing them down to future generations.

Several professional organizations were represented at the ITD celebration. Among these, Nancy McInnis, president of ATIO, was on hand to distribute two scholarships, one to newly graduated student Gwyneth Buck, who received FondATIO’s Academic Achievement Award of $500, offered to the student who graduated with the highest average in June 2010; and the second one to Sean van Wert, who received FondATIO’s $1000 scholarship as a final-year student with the highest average.

Left: Gwyneth Buck and Nancy McInnis

Lola Bendana, vice-chair of AILIA (the Language Industry Association), Gabriele Sauberer, executive secretary of TermNet (the International Network for Terminology) and Nathalie Morgan, coordinator of Traduca (the Canadian Translation Internship Program) were on hand to represent their organizations, all of which are in close collaboration with the Glendon School of Translation.

Right: Lola Bendana and Andrew Clifford

Several announcements underlined the vibrancy and validity of the School’s work. The Canadian Language Sector Enhancement Program (CLSEP), which functions within the federal Translation Bureau (Public Works and Government Services Canada), announced significant funds for scholarships and for developing an interpretation program in the Glendon School of Translation, while Traduca announced new internships for translation students. Terminologist Nelida Chan, who is a professor in the School of Translation, is in the process of building a multilingual healthcare terminology bank housed at Glendon, whose database currently includes ten languages and continues to develop. AILIA and TermNet have declared their commitment to finding additional funds to support this project.

Left: Sean van Wert and Nancy McInnis

International Translation Day provided a chance for all the members of the translation community to come together, share ideas and network. “This wonderful celebration was also an opportunity to feel proud of the School’s accomplishments”, commented Clifford, “and to identify with those professionals who work in other languages. It is our goal to work together to consolidate and promote the industry.” 

Record attendance at the ITD celebration

An article by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on October 25, 2010