It all began in 1947, during the Second General Conference of UNESCO, held in the Mexican capital, which Morayta attended as a journalist for El Universal. Circumstances obliged her to stand in as an interpreter in one of the conference rooms and, subsequently, to interpret in the Spanish booth in the plenary hall. As a result of these interventions, she received an invitation from the US Department of State to formally train as a conference interpreter in Washington, DC.

Even though Italia Morayta belongs to the first generation of simultaneous interpreters in the world, the importance of her work lies in the fact that, in addition to securing decent working conditions, she decisively promoted the professionalization of this activity in Mexico at a time when there were no other professional associations or academic institutions to train interpreters and translators. As official interpreter for several presidents of Mexico, and at countless international meetings at the highest level, she forged an outstanding career that paved the way for the generations that followed.

See the Our founder section for more information about Italia Morayta.

In 2015, CM Idiomas created the Italia Morayta Fund, which the following year acquired autonomy and the status of Foundation. It is a non-profit civil association, financed through donations, sponsorships and exchanges.

The central objective of the Italia Morayta Foundation is to contribute to the professionalization and recognition of translators and interpreters. Special attention has been paid to community interpreters of indigenous Mexican languages. At the dawn of conference interpreting in Mexico, interpreters between foreign languages and Spanish experienced a situation similar to what community interpreters are going through today. Six or seven decades ago, those who ventured into conference interpreting were usually bilingual women with a broad general knowledge but without any formal training in the subject. Today, young people who speak an indigenous language are beginning to work in the community environment. In this way, both groups began their work empirically.

It should be noted that the Foundation does not intend to impose any particular criteria. Rather, it simply seeks to make relevant information available to interested parties, promote mutual knowledge of the different actors that make up the world of translation and interpretation in Mexico, and offer spaces for them to meet. If the above is achieved, the small industry professional associations will enjoy greater recognition.

In order to achieve this goal, the Italia Morayta Foundation has forged alliances with different organizations, academic institutions and professional associations in order to implement, with the support of a group of independent researchers, the Survey study on translation and interpretation in Mexico, to organize the e-Lenguas webinar series, the International forum for interpreters and translators Lenguas 2017 and the online workshop course The professionalization of medical interpretation in indigenous languages.
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Survey study on translation and interpretation in Mexico
Mexico is an exceptionally rich country from a linguistic point of view. It is not only the country with the largest number of Spanish speakers but, in addition, more than seven million of its citizens express themselves in one of the 364 variants of the 68 indigenous languages registered by INALI, and it is estimated that approximately 300,000 people may be users of some form of sign language. As if that were not enough, its more than 3,000 km border with the United States is the meeting point between the largest global concentrations of English and Spanish speakers, it has a diverse economic sector, it maintains robust political and trade relations with a large number of countries and has a significant level of migration. It is evident that, in this context, the translation and interpretation industry is of great significance in commercial, political, cultural and human rights matters.

In order to investigate, among other things, the professional profile of those who work in this field, their most common specialized areas, how their work is paid and their perceptions about the future of the profession, at the beginning of this year, the Italia Morayta Foundation, with InterpretAmerica as consultants, proposed to sponsor a rigorous survey—the first of its type and scope—aimed at interpreters and translators based in Mexico. To this end, an independent research team was hired and, shortly afterwards, the civil association Interpreters and Translators in Public and Community Services was invited to send one of its members to join this working group and help coordinate its work in the area of indigenous languages.

The result of this effort, the Survey study on translation and interpretation in Mexico 2017, presents the information collected—thanks to the participation of more than 1,000 respondents—on the magnitude and diversity that exists today in the field of translation and interpretation in Mexico.

Italia Morayta Awards
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Furthermore, the Foundation established the Italia Morayta Award in four categories: translation, interpretation, community interpretation and research work. The Foundation has an Advisory Board, made up of five people widely recognized in this field, who acted as a jury, who were joined by two specialists in each category. Thus, each jury was actually composed of seven members.

The awards for translators and conference interpreters are in recognition of a career. The fundamental condition is that whoever wins the award not only has an outstanding resume, but in addition has dedicated a large part of his or her life to sharing their knowledge with new generations.

The intention of the community interpreter award is to treat those who work in that field with the same standing as those who work in conferences. It is aimed at a person or organization that has made an effort to promote the interpreter's work in that medium.

Finally, the award for research, aimed at young people who are graduating from academia, seeks to recognize academic work presented to complete undergraduate or master's studies. This award seeks to establish a link between generations, since nothing pleased Italia Morayta more than "to see that the young generations have the interest, talent and ability to continue building the history of this beautiful profession".
Winners of the first edition
  • RESEARCH WORK: ANA MORALES MARÍN MARÍN for her work "Interpreters in emergency situations”

Winners of the second edition
  • RESEARCH WORK: LUCILA CHRISTEN Y GRACIA for her work "Impact of the gender of the voice on the perception of the quality of simultaneous interpretation"

The call for entries for the third edition of the Italia Morayta Award will be published on August 30, 2024.