FIT:n puheenjohtaja Kevin Quirkin englanninkielinen tervehdys kansainvälisenä kääntäjienpäivänä

Kääntäjien, tulkkien ja terminologien maailmanjärjestö FIT:n (International Federation of Translators / Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs) puheenjohtaja Kevin Quirk toivottaa FIT:n jäsenjärjestö Suomen kääntäjien ja tulkkien liiton jäsenille, ja kaikille, hyvää kääntäjienpäivää 2020! Quirk on erityisen iloinen siitä, että niin moni järjestö maailmalla pitää kansainvälisen maailmanjärjestön jäsenyyttä tärkeänä – jäsenjärjestöjä on 130  ja jäseniä 90 000  lähes 60 maassa. Näin kääntäjien, tulkkien ja terminologien ääni tavoittaa mahdollisimman monet. 

Working together to counter COVID-19 – Finding the words for a world in crisis

Dear friends in translation, terminology and interpreting! Dear members of SKTL!

First, I would like to thank SKTL for inviting me to send you greetings on International Translators Day 2020.

As you probably know, the International Federation of Translators, FIT, gathers together around 130 professional associations and training institutes, representing almost 90,000 members in almost 60 countries. We are a global federation, indeed the only global federation representing associations of translators, terminologists and interpreters be they in very large associations or indeed in far smaller associations.

What each of our members’ members have in common is a commitment to the profession. That is, every one of them – and you yourselves – are all professionals who provide high quality translations, terminology or interpreting services.

What I think we all do in our various organisations to some extent or another is to monitor situations facing our members and to provide support to them – both moral and otherwise. What we are not always good at is working together with other associations at a regional or even global level to focus on key areas where we face similar challenges. I think there is no better opportunity for us to stand together than the situation we are facing now.

The coronavirus, as you are all aware, knows no boundaries, does not respect international borders and makes no distinction as regards who it may affect. In short, the rapid spread of COVID-19 worldwide means we are all in this together. And we do need to counter it by coming together and pooling our resources. For this reason, I am very glad that so many associations are part of the FIT family.

I believe it is essential that we make our voices heard. Our job as translators and interpreters is to bridge the language gap and promote mutual understanding. Indeed, we have been acknowledged for precisely this by a most supreme body, the United Nations General Assembly, which adopted a Resolution in 2017, recognising “the role of professional translation in connecting nations, and fostering peace, understanding and development”.

The resolution also enshrines and celebrates the importance and the irreplaceability of professional translation in international human endeavours.

In the difficult times we are in, it is important to for all of us to support the essential work carried out by translators, terminologists and interpreters in helping to combat COVID-19.

  1. In the front line, by community interpreters working in emergency wards and intensive care units, communicating vital information to those infected and to their next of kin.
  2. By sign language interpreters providing simultaneous interpreting at press briefings.
  3. By conference interpreters at virtual meetings of medical experts discussing possible vaccines and other forms of treatment.
  4. By translators working to translate medical research, user instructions and information for those affected by the COVID-19 virus and their next of kin, and
  5. By terminologists creating important glossaries for the medical industry.

We are in this together and we stand together. We are the ones who are “finding the words for a world in crisis”.

COVID-19 is also affecting the economic situation of many members of our profession since surveys show that many language professionals have had less work in recent months. While we all hope this situation will improve shortly, it is important that we as representatives of translators, terminologists and interpreters bring the attention of the general public, businesses and government authorities to the essential work we all do and of the continued need for translation and interpreting services in the future.

There are any number of other issues I could name but I think I will restrict myself to mentioning only one other matter relating to changes experienced by conference interpreters: Remote simultaneous interpreting, once feared and revered by traditional conference interpreters (in some regions in particular), is rapidly becoming the only way to interpret for larger online gatherings (via Zoom, for example), at present at least. We need to monitor how this will affect our profession in the future and whether it is possible to safeguard good working conditions for remote simultaneous interpreters (and to avoid, for example, acoustic shock).

I would like to take this opportunity to thank SKTL in particular for the great amount of support it has given to FIT over the years, to the various members of SKTL who have served on FIT Council and the Executive Committee and for sending so many delegates to our triennial FIT World Congresses. I sincerely hope to see many of you at the FIT World Congress in Varadero, Cuba in December 2021 – providing, of course, that the world has opened up again by then.

For now, however, on such an important day as today – International Translation Day 2020 – I wish you a very happy day filled with fine celebrations! After all, if we don’t celebrate the important work we do, no one else will!

Happy International Translation Day 2020!



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