This Sunday, 30 September, is 2018 International Translation Day. This year’s theme is Translation: Promoting Cultural Heritage in Changing Times. So, what is cultural heritage, anyway, and how can translators help promote and preserve it?
Cultural heritage “is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and preserved for the benefit of future generations.” Language is a type of “intangible culture.” Beyond that, language also preserves other bits of intangible culture, like values, traditions, and folklore.
In many places, cultural heritage is under threat from conflict, poverty or just a world that’s changing more rapidly than ever – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five ways translators are helping to preserve cultural heritage around the world.
Translators without Borders – Gamayun, The Language Equality Initiative
We love Translators Without Borders. You may know them best for their work in providing vulnerable people with the information they need to survive the aftermath of conflicts, crises and natural disasters. On top of that, they are also gathering data to bring twenty underserved languages online during the next decade.
Machine translation, while far from perfect, does allow people to access information that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. However, machine translation relies on data. For many languages, that data is scarce. Translators Without Borders aims to bring voice recognition and text translation to languages like Kiswahili, Bengali and Hausa.