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'Many Languages – One Profession' : Glendon Shines a Spotlight on the Translation Profession


“From Abenaki to Zulu, there are some 6,800 languages in the world. […] The translation profession […] is almost as old as the most ancient languages: as soon as there was interaction beyond one’s immediate community, there was a need for an interpreter. […] In today’s global village, how would the world manage without the services of these language professionals?” Thus intoned the International Federation of Translators (IFT) in its invitation to International Translation Day 2006, on September 28.

A Glendon evening celebrating International Translation Day drew standing-room-only crowds. Co-hosted by Glendon’s School of Translation and the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO), this annual event promotes professionalism in the disciplines it represents. Its parent organization, the International Federation of Translators (IFT) boasts 115 members in over 50 countries and represents 60,000 professionals, among them translators, interpreters and terminologists, gathering more than 100 associations from around the world.

A record attendance at the Glendon International Translation Day reception.

This year’s theme, ‘Many Languages – One Profession’ highlighted the importance of the translation profession to those in attendance: members of ATIO, Glendon students, as well as professors from the English, French and Spanish translation programs. The evening also offered a unique opportunity for networking and discussing current professional issues.

The two keynote speakers of the evening were Ian Martin, Glendon professor of English and coordinator of the Glendon Certificate Program in the Discipline of Teaching English as an International Language (D-TEIL); and vice-president of ATIO Nancy McInnis, who has co-hosted International Translation Day celebrations at Glendon since 2002.

In his talk on Respecting Linguistic Diversity, Martin pointed to a clear link between the preservation of different world views and diverse languages. He chose Nunavut’s language issues as an example, where he has been actively involved in an attempt to develop bilingual (English – Inuktutut) education and community development. “As languages are homogenized, there is loss of linguistic as well as ideological diversity”, said Martin. He further commented on an interesting parallel between the loss of linguistic diversity and biological diversity. "The idea that Canada's linguistic identity is contained in the English-French linguistic duality represents a great advance over the concept of ‘unity’. But it is a limited vision, one which is little more than a precursor of respect for diversity," added Martin. He pointed to the activities of Terralingua - a non-profit, international organization dedicated to supporting and promoting diversity in nature and culture, as an outstanding example of work in the field of language preservation. Martin also emphasized the importance of learning languages in social, as well as academic environments. “An excellent example is the French-English reality at Glendon”, he said, “where language learning is a lived experience. I feel very fortunate to be able to interact in a linguistic duality every day at Glendon.”

McInnis, the second speaker of the evening, offered practical advice for both aspiring and seasoned translators. Based on her personal experience as a successful freelance translator, McInnis proposed five important points as vital for success in a translation career: obtaining a degree to establish credibility; acquiring appropriate training and experience; remembering cultural context when translating; getting involved and networking in appropriate organizations, such as ATIO; and building trust with clients by being reliable and realistic about accepting work.

“Events such as this one are very important,” added McInnis, “because students are exposed to the working world and find out about career options and opportunities. Once they have graduated, freelancers often work in isolation and benefit greatly from a chance to meet and discuss with other professionals in their field.”

Far left: Translation professor Rosalind Gill; centre: director of the School of Translation Marie-Christine Aubin; at the lectern: vice president of ATIO Nancy McInnis.

One of the highlights of the evening was the annual distribution of awards of excellence by ATIO to outstanding Glendon students in translation. Among these was Diane Gagné, currently enrolled in Glendon’s MA program in translation, for obtaining the highest average in her final year of a BA. 4th-year translation student Veronica Cappella, at present pursuing a specialized BA as well as a Spanish-English Translation Certificate, was awarded an ATIO scholarship for overall academic excellence. Virginie Langlois, currently in her 3rd year of translation studies, received an RTE (Réseau des traducteurs et des traductrices en éducation = Educational Translators’ Network) scholarship for the highest average in second year.

“Events like International Translation Day are very valuable networking opportunities for translators in Toronto”, said Diane Gagné. “This is both an academic and a work-related event, where participants can speak with professors and other translation alumni. When searching for a university known for its excellent translation program, the obvious choice is Glendon.”

The next event hosted by the Glendon School of Translation will be the highly popular Alumni Night during the winter term. For more details about this event, visit

This article was submitted by Marika Kemeny and Marie Maher of the Glendon Recruitment and Marketing Department

Published on October 5, 2006