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Off topic: New EU members complicate the task of translating among its members
Thread poster: GaryG

GaryG  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:37
English
+ ...
Apr 8, 2004

Translating is EU's new boom industry

By Angus Roxburgh
BBC News Online, Brussels

When 10 new countries join the European Union on 1 May, they bring with them an extra nine languages to add to the EU's existing
11.

There could even be 10 new tongues, for if Greek and Turkish Cypriots vote for reunification before then, Turkish will become the
EU's 21st language.

How will it cope? Even with 20, Europe's tower of Babel is creaking.

Twenty languages gives a total of 190 possible combinations (English-German, French-Czech, Finnish-Portuguese, etc), and
finding any human being who speaks, for example, both Greek and Estonian or Slovene and Lithuanian is well-nigh impossible.

To get round this problem, the parliament will use much more "relay translation", where a speech is interpreted first into one
language and then into another - and perhaps into a fourth or fifth.

-------------
Translation costs less than 2 euros per citizen, so it is less than a cup of coffee

Luhani Lonnroth
Head of translation service
--------------

Clearly the scope for mistakes in this game of Chinese whispers is huge.

"If I'm first in the chain, and make a mistake, then everyone else down the relay makes the same mistake - or worse," Jana Jalvi,
one of the new Estonian recruits says.

The need for translation already takes away the cut and thrust of a normal parliamentary debate.

When the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, last year likened a German MEP to a Nazi camp guard, it took several seconds
before the German realised he was being insulted and pulled off his headphones in disgust.

But the rule is that every language must be provided.

"The European Parliament is the one place you can't expect people to speak a foreign language," Patrick Twidle, who is in charge
of recruiting new interpreters, says.

----------
Before and after

European Commission has 1,300 translators
They process 1.5 million pages a year
They cost the EU 550 million euros

After 1 May, staff will almost double in size
They will translate 2.5 million pages a year
Their budget will be over 800 million euros
----------

"People are elected not because of their language skills but to represent their political constituency."

The European Commission already has 1,300 translators, who process 1.5 million pages a year in the EU's 11 languages.

In two years that is expected to rise to almost 2.5 million pages - and the staff, based in two enormous buildings in Brussels and
Lŭembourg, will almost double in size to cope with the output.

The cost will rise from roughly 550 million euros today to over 800 million euros after enlargement.

Is it worth it?

Juhani Lonnroth, the Finn who runs the translation service, has done his sums.

"Translation costs less than 2 euros per citizen, so it is less than a cup of coffee or a ticket to the cinema," he says.

"I think it's worth it because it is part of democracy."

French competition

MEPs nonetheless last week debated whether it might not make sense to have just one official language for the EU.

An Italian MEP, Gianfranco Dell'Alba, wondered if all MEPs should have to learn a neutral language like Esperanto.

The obvious choice, in fact, would be English, which is more widely spoken as a second language than any other.

But the French - who have the parliament on their soil and who, after all, were founder-members of the EU - were outraged by the
very suggestion.

They are already miffed at the slow easing-out of their language as the chief means of communication in the European
Commission, where English is steadily gaining ground.

EU commissioners from the new member states are being offered a free crash course at a chateau in the south of France, while
lower-level civil servants will get free French lessons in Brussels.

Over 1,000 have already availed themselves of the opportunity.

Meanwhile, translating has become the EU's biggest boom industry.

It is not just the official institutions that require documents in their own languages, but all the associated lobbying companies and
consultancies.

Builders have been constructing new cabins for the interpreters in all the meeting rooms of the European parliament - in Brussels
and in Strasbourg.

Electronics suppliers are cashing in on the demand for more sophisticated mixing desks to make sure the correct language gets
channelled to each set of headphones in the enormous chamber - including those provided for members of the public.

More booths?

"It's very exciting," says Mari-Liis Aroella, an Estonian interpreter.

"We've been waiting so long for this moment, and finally it's happening."

She looks exhausted after two hours of intense concentration during a practice session, simultaneously translating a debate about
the future EU constitution, full of expressions that most citizens would be hard put to understand in their own language.

And they are planning for an even grander future.

There are already 27 interpretation booths ranged around the parliamentary debating chamber, for soon there will be Romanian
and Bulgarian - not to mention perhaps Croatian and Macedonian.

The tower grows and grows.
-------
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/3604069.stm

Published: 2004/04/08 01:55:37 GMT


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Yakov Tomara  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 16:37
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
Well, where's the problem? Apr 9, 2004

GaryG wrote:

An Italian MEP, Gianfranco Dell'Alba, wondered if all MEPs should have to learn a neutral language like Esperanto.

The obvious choice, in fact, would be English, which is more widely spoken as a second language than any other.



I've already written here that the most obvious choice would have been Latin, the only thing to decide is whether it should be classical or dog Latin A good agenda for parliamentary hearings.

------------

В двух словах для коллег, не владеющих английским. В приведенной Гэри статье описывается Вавилонская башня, формирующаяся в расширенном Евросоюзе (до 21 языка), причем, все хотят равноправия, в частности, французы против английского как "первого среди равных". Один итальянец предложил эсперанто.

Ну а я все о своем: а почему бы, собственно, не латынь? Хотя, конечно, меня этот вопрос не касается (жить в Евросоюзе я не хочу категорически), однако занятно



[Edited at 2004-04-09 05:58]


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Ekaterina Khovanovitch  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:37
Member (2005)
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
А почему не жить в нем категорически? Apr 9, 2004

Россия с Украиной тоже ведь, наверное, вступят рано или поздно. Думаете, это плохо?

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Yakov Tomara  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 16:37
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
О вкусах не спорят Apr 9, 2004

Ekaterina Khovanovitch wrote:

Россия с Украиной тоже ведь, наверное, вступят рано или поздно. Думаете, это плохо?


Говорить на тему, плохо или нет, не могу по двум причинам: (1) мои рассуждения можно было бы рассматривать как политические, т.е. я бы грубо нарушил правила данного форума, (2) понятия "хорошо" или "плохо" в данном вопросе сверхотносительны, придется убить массу времени, чтобы не то, чтобы договориться о критериях оценки, а хотя бы уразуметь эти критерии друг у друга.

Не нравится мне там жить, и все тут (был как-то раз там неделю - замечательно, еще бы на пару недель съездить, но не жить). А что до России, да и Украины, то надеюсь не дожить до этих "светлых времен".

[Edited at 2004-04-09 12:47]


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
только-только получили независимость и опять в кабалу ? Apr 9, 2004

Ekaterina Khovanovitch wrote:

Россия с Украиной тоже ведь, наверное, вступят рано или поздно. Думаете, это плохо?


нет уж - увольте


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
кстати Россия вряд ли когда-либо вступит - даже если её "пригласят" Apr 9, 2004

Ekaterina Khovanovitch wrote:

Россия с Украиной тоже ведь, наверное, вступят рано или поздно. Думаете, это плохо?


кстати Россия вряд ли когда-либо вступит - даже если её "пригласят"- по геополитическим соображениям она не попадает в зону ЕС


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Ludwig Chekhovtsov  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:37
English to Russian
+ ...
Кто-кто, а переводчики должны быть в первых рядах борцов за расширение ЕС Apr 9, 2004

Yakov Tomara wrote:
Не нравится мне там жить, и все тут (был как-то раз там неделю - замечательно, еще бы на пару недель съездить, но не жить).
[Edited at 2004-04-09 12:47]


Яков, мне кажется, я Вас понимаю и в принципе с Вами полностью согласен. Мне тоже не очень-то нравится жить "там", где я вынужден теперь жить, а хотелось бы вернуться домой и жить в Украине или в России. Но ведь для Вас вопрос так не стоит. Даже если представить, что Украина когда-нибудь станет членом ЕС, Вам ведь не придется менять местожительства и жить "там", где Вам жить не нравится. Кстати, у меня есть родственники и друзья в Болгарии, так для них вступление Болгарии в ЕС на укладе и образе жизни, если не считать столицу и курортные районы, отражается аж никак, если опять же не считать переход от болгарского лева, немецкой марки и американского доллара на евро и связанные с этим неизбежное измение масштаба цен и жизненного уровня.
Зато какое раздолье переводчикам !


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Alexander Shchekotin  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:37
English to Russian
+ ...
бюрократы Apr 10, 2004

Факт, что у Брюсселя с его бюрократической машиной одно место точно скоро треснет. Почему не сделать по аналогии с ООН, где только часть официальных языков? С такой системой, как сейчас, очень сложно пробиться на этот рынок!

Между прочим, русский с расширением тоже мог бы стать официальным языком: людей, у которых родной язык русский, в Европе теперь будет больше, чем в любой присоединяющейся стране, кроме Польши.


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Nikolai Muraviev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:37
English to Russian
+ ...
Ой-ой! Apr 12, 2004

Alexander Onishko wrote:

Ekaterina Khovanovitch wrote:

Россия с Украиной тоже ведь, наверное, вступят рано или поздно. Думаете, это плохо?


нет уж - увольте


Александр, давайте жить дружно! Хотя бы в рамках ПроЗета!


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