EU tries to cope with 20 languages
Thread poster: Jack Doughty

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:59
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Feb 18, 2005

(Daily Telegraph, 18/02/2005)

Talk isn't cheap as EU minds its 20 languages
By David Rennie in Brussels

Now that the European Union boasts 20 official languages, the resulting cacophony sounds something like the Tower of Babel but with simultaneous interpretation.
Among the many unforeseen consequences of the explosive growth of the union - from 15 to 25 countries last May, rising to 27 when Romania and Bulgaria join in a couple of years - are an urgent demand for Latvian speakers in Luton and a dire shortage of Maltese interpreters.
The commission recently announced that total EU costs for oral interpretation and written translation would rise from ?464 million in 2004 to ?741 million a year after 2007, money well spent, as far as the commission is concerned.
Most senior officials speak English, conceded Ian Andersen, a principal interpreter at the commission. "But you want to send your best diplomats to Brussels, not your best English speakers."
The EU has also budgeted for 90 translators of written material for each new language, to handle the torrential output of paper.
In addition, private contract agencies, such as one in Luton, Beds, are being deluged with work for the commission.
Britain is an unrivalled hunting ground for exotic linguists, according to Angela Caballer, a senior project manager in the UK office of Bowne Global Solutions, the world's largest translation firm.
Her Luton team recently handled an EU request for 35,000 words of highly technical Latvian to be rendered into English.
"It's very hard to find a Latvian speaker in Ireland or Spain. Britain is the best country to look," said Ms Caballer.
High prices, of up to 10p a word, are on offer to the rarest experts, who can translate Estonian, Latvian, Slovene or - rarest of all - Maltese. French or German linguists might earn half that.
Maltese - an ancient Semitic language blending elements of Arabic, Italian and other Romance tongues - is spoken by only about 370,000 people. The EU's interpretation services have launched an urgent quest for up to 120 fluent Maltese staff.
To date, it has found eight, all freelancers, the most senior being Prof Joseph Eynaud, a senior lecturer at the University of Malta.
On the written front, Malta has special permission to translate only the most important EU documents until 2007, while translators render the entire body of existing EU law into Maltese - all 80,000 pages of it.
"I don't think my government knew what it was letting itself in for," says Prof Eynaud.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:59
German to English
Top rate of 10p per line? Feb 18, 2005


High prices, of up to 10p a word, are on offer to the rarest experts, who can translate Estonian, Latvian, Slovene or - rarest of all - Maltese. French or German linguists might earn half that.


Top rates for Bowne freelancers, I suppose. I wonder what they're charging the Commission...

Robin


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TRADL
France
Local time: 00:59
English to French
+ ...
Bowne Feb 18, 2005

It's my boyfriend's boss speaking in that article) He sent it me this morning.

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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 00:59
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
10 p a word Robin Feb 18, 2005

RobinB wrote:


High prices, of up to 10p a word, are on offer to the rarest experts, who can translate Estonian, Latvian, Slovene or - rarest of all - Maltese. French or German linguists might earn half that.


Top rates for Bowne freelancers, I suppose. I wonder what they're charging the Commission...

Robin


But I agree-wonder how much Bowne is raking in from the Commission-20-30p a word?


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:59
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Good news for Easten European translators Feb 18, 2005

I cannot imagine anybody paying that much even if the language is exotic. Mind you, so far I have had to restrain myself from sending really rude emails to agencies that keep contactign me and offering work for 4 cents a word. Their motivation is that Latvian translators do not charge that much becaus the living cost in not as high as in other EU countries. Thats it. We do not pay more for this language pair. At the same time decent agencies do not even dream of humiliating translators because of their language pairs and pay the same fees all other language pair translators are receiving. It really is free market out there.

Burrell


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:59
German to English
10 p a word = less than EUR 0.15 Feb 18, 2005

Burrell wrote:
I cannot imagine anybody paying that much even if the language is exotic.


High-end, highly specialised work commands far, far higher prices, even from agencies. GBP 0.1 per word is less than EUR 0.15, and you can't buy top quality for that. Not in Western Europe, at any rate.


Their motivation is that Latvian translators do not charge that much becaus the living cost in not as high as in other EU countries.


Well, the lady from Bowne says she has to look in the UK, not in the new accession states. I wonder how many English native translators specialising in Latvian tech translations there really are out there in the UK; I'd have thought this would be a sellers' market...


We do not pay more for this language pair. At the same time decent agencies do not even dream of humiliating translators because of their language pairs and pay the same fees all other language pair translators are receiving. It really is free market out there.


Indeed, market forces prevail, and that's one reason why prices differ so much for different language pairs. And if there's a shortage of translators, market forces dictates that prices will rise, don't they?

Robin


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Vidmantas Stilius  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:59
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Wonderrates Feb 18, 2005

*Their motivation is that Latvian translators do not charge that much becaus the living cost in not as high as in other EU countries. Thats it. We do not pay more for this language pair.*

We charge, but they do not pay (actually, they admit it).

On the other hand, I have not seen any offers to buy Trados, etc. at special "East European" prices.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not just yet, anyway Feb 22, 2005

Jack Doughty wrote:

(Daily Telegraph, 18/02/2005)

Now that the European Union boasts 20 official languages, the resulting cacophony sounds something like the Tower of Babel but with simultaneous interpretation.


Retour and relay are being used.

http://www.fu-berlin.de/elc/bulletin/8/en/lauridsen2.html


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