Glendon’s International Translation Day highlights non-official languages

The Glendon School of Translation in collaboration with the Association of Translators & Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) held its annual celebration of International Translation Day on Sept. 30 with record attendance. The event offered a new look at translation outside of Canada’s two official languages.

Right: Newly graduated student Gwyneth Buck (left) and Nancy McInnis, president of ATIO

This year’s theme, “Quality Translation for a Variety of Voices”, was chosen by the International Federation of Translators 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, introduced the guest speakers, who represented an interesting array of cultural backgrounds. Certified Translator (C. Tran) Maha Takla outlined the challenges of working from Arabic to English, and Edward Liu (C. Tran.) spoke about his experiences in working from English to Chinese.

Left: Canadian First Nations translators Maya Chacaby (left) and Albert Owl

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 & Language Studies. Owl works with the same language as a translator and interpreter. 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, they said.

Right: Sean Van Wert

Owl told an entire story in Anishinaabemowin. This served as a real-life illustration of the discomfort people feel when addressed in a language they don’t understand, and underlined the important role of translation. It also gave everyone present an opportunity to hear and honour a language spoken on this continent for countless generations before the arrival of French and English.

Chacaby emphasized the special issues confronted by First Nations professionals, whose work represents different goals from those of other translators – 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.”

Left: Gabriele Sauberer, executive secretary of TermNet

Several professional organizations were represented at the  celebration. Among these was Nancy McInnis, president of ATIO, who distributed two scholarships from the ATIO Foundation, FondATIO. Gwyneth Buck received FondATIO’s Academic Achievement Award of $500, given to the June graduate with the highest average, and Sean Van Wert received its $1,000 scholarship for the final year student with the highest average.

Lola Bendana, vice-chair of the Language Industry Association (AILIA), Gabriele Sauberer, executive secretary of the International Network for Terminology (TermNet), and Nathalie Morgan, coordinator of 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.

Several announcements underlined the vibrancy and validity of the school’s work. The Canadian Language Sector Enhancement Program, which functions within the Public Works & Government Services of Canada Translation Bureau, 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 Glendon School of Translation, is in the process of building a multilingual health-care terminology bank housed at Glendon. This database currently includes 10 languages and continues to develop. AILIA and TermNet have declared their commitment to finding additional funds to support this project.

By Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer