More on International Translation Day

30 September was not only International Translation Day, it was also Translator’s Day. And while we’re here, it was also the day of the Reviewer, Formatter and Project Manager! And of the countless cups of tea or coffee that help us keep the lights on during that most challenging project. And, of course, our patron saint – St Jerome!

Jerome, first name Eusebio (not to be confused with the Portuguese football star) became known for translating the Bible into Latin – better known as the Vulgate. And if Helen of Troy’s beauty was enough to launch a thousand ships, St Jerome’s contribution to translation has launched discussions that endure to this day. In fact, in a previous article (insert article) we even lifted the veil when we spoke about literal translation and translation by meaning.

St Jerome was also a master of puns. Or double meanings. In the first versions of the scriptures, there are no references to the symbolic apple, but rather to Peri, which is a generic term for fruit from a tree, ranging from grapes to figs and pomegranates. But the stars were aligned that day and St Jeronimo did something automatic translation (insert article) will never be able to do: Interpret. So he opted for the translation Malus, which means both evil and apple, with it being the scientific term for the genus of the fruit species. And from that moment on, the Tree of Knowledge was laden with apples in a decision that has gone on to influence popular culture because, let’s face it, it’s more symbolic to have a Snow White with a cursed red apple than with a bunch of grapes.

The foresight of our patron saint did not stop with the translation of the Bible; it extended to society’s perception of the translator as an individual. Here’s what we mean: in artistic representations of Jerome, it is common to see him with a lion of various sizes (in reference to the legend of the Saint who healed a lion’s paw), as if he knew beforehand that felines would be a translator’s best companion, sprawled across the desk and competing for attention. In other representations, the Saint illustrates the duality of the translator’s profession, appearing well-groomed, affable and serene, or in a desert, seated and apprehensive among the rocks as someone facing deadlines and an unfinished quality check. However, he is always – and I mean always – surrounded by books and full of wisdom, because, as we were told many years ago, while translators may not know how to build a bridge, they understand how one is built.

Isn’t it true? Maybe. Who knows? Yet these funny details of our history and profession put a smile on our faces and give us the will to do more and better. We are not saints, and nor are we in the business of creating miracles, but our management and translation teams collaborate daily to ensure you are completely satisfied, doing everything possible – and sometimes even the impossible – to ensure we never forget to mark this date.

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