Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Catch, then, O catch the transient hour; Improve each moment as it flies! -Jerome

For ages I have sought in vain for a St. Jerome medal. Or rather, for the past few years, I have occasionally remembered that I thought it would be rather nice to have one.

Whenever this thought occurs to me, I wander over to eBay- my source for all things obscure - and I search. This search always turns up "0 items." That's right, eBay, mighty mighty eBay, never has a single St. Jerome medal. Now, if you search for a St. Christopher medal you will find 191 items, but apparently no one cares about St. Jerome. I find this perfectly understandable, but also sad and rather ironic.

St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, is popular for obvious reasons, but once you arrive at your destination, how are you going to communicate with the locals without St. Jerome's help?

St. Jerome is the patron saint of translators. He passed away on September 30th, one thousand five hundred and eighty eight years ago in the year 420AD. Jerome is best known for his translation of the Bible.

Jerome's Latin translation, known as the Vulgate, became the canonical translation of the Roman Catholic Church for roughly 1,000 years. No small achievement.

Except for Augustine, no medieval Christian scholar was more prolific than Jerome. In fact, Augustine himself once said of Jerome that, "what Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."

The Catholic Church honored Jerome by recognizing him as the patron saint of translators, librarians, and encyclopedists.

This is why today, September 30th, is International Translation Day. A day when we celebrate all things language related and remember the pioneers who have paved the way for the work we do today.

So, if you see crowds of people sporting shirts with slogans like, "there is no egg in eggplant,"[1] "veni, vidi, traduttori,"[2] and "outside of a dog a book is man's best friend; inside of a dog it's too dark to read,"[3] or if your lunch is interrupted by a vociferous argument at the next table over the origin of the word "okay," don't worry-

-You've probably just stumbled across a celebration of International Translation Day.

[1] Richard Lederer

[2] I was shooting for the Latin of "I came, I saw, I translated," but I've never studied Latin. If I got it wrong, please let me know!

[3] Groucho Marx

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