Article: Language director defends EU's costly translations
Thread poster: Aleksandra Kwasnik
Aleksandra Kwasnik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:47
Polish to German
+ ...
Mar 7, 2008

A high official in the European Commission's translation branch has said that despite discussions and fears in recent years about mushrooming costs for translations and interpretations in the EU, the principle of granting each citizen the right to communicate with Brussels in their own language should not be altered, no matter the number of member states in the future.
http://euobserver.com/9/25712/?rk=1


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:47
German to English
+ ...
Priceless quotes in the article Mar 7, 2008

I love this sentence:

"If you cannot say what you want in 15 pages, well then maybe you should not say it at all." I wonder how many Eurocrats (or bureaucrats of any kind) agree with him?

And I am intrigued by his comparison of the number of hard copies needed in different languages:
"And in the end, the difference is the amount of copies you pre-set the printer for, 90 million for the Germans or 300,000 for the Maltese".

90 million printed copies of EU documents in German? Who is going to read all that stuff?


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:47
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Size does matter Mar 7, 2008

I must applaud Mr Lonnroth's tenacity for underlining the value of all the language combinations, but like Victor I thought about "why can't you say all you want to in 15 pages?" Hmmm ...

Because sometimes you can't, that's why. It all depends on what you have to say, doesn't it? If you're talking about some machine or other that produces something or other to a rate of something or other with parameters something or other, with the end result that something or other leads to a something or other that ...

Kills the urge, doesn't it? Why bother to write if you only have 15 pages?

"... please Mr Kafka, I know you feel you've a lot to say about your own paranoia in your next work, but for God's sake surely you can say all you want to say in 15 pages".

" ... look, Adolf, can't you just condense Mein Kampf into 15 pages? ... maybe if you took out all the stuff about the Jews?"


" ... Hey Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John too, listen up here, you gotta be reasonable, we've got to fit in Acts after this, and then all the way down down down to the big fire and brimstone climax in Revelation, so start cutting it back a little, will you? You could start with that Sermon on the Mount stuff with the loaves and the fishes. Nobody's gonna believe it anyway."



Mervyn


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Flemish to English
+ ...
In THEIR own language : a necessity??? Mar 7, 2008

Last year, I registered for a EU-competition. For one reason or the other there was a mistake in the publication of the competition. I received a three page letter saying that for me nothing had changed, but that other candidates would be given the opportunity to participate in the preselection test. That letter was three pages long.
Why don't they just cut down on languages inside the Commission and the Council and not the Parliament (representations of the people) and the Comimittee of the Regions (representations of interest groups)
Isn't the current head of the Commission multilingual (Mr.Barosso speaks English, French, his native Portuguese and I am sure he understands other Romanic languages such as Spanish, Italian and even Romanian).
The lingua franca of the Commission is English (French and German). It should become a requirement/is a (tacit) requirement to become commissioner, but these people in the "bastion of democracy" are designated by their governement. They could start cutting cost by reducing Eurocratic salaries (+4000 at AD-level upto about €9000 per month plus perks for a Head of Service) to the average national level.




[Bijgewerkt op 2008-03-07 12:57]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:47
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not what you know, but who you know Mar 7, 2008

Hi Williamson,

If you want them to cut down on the language thang you can hardly ask them to add in your services. Anyway, if your uncle or your mother doesn't work there you aren't going to get in because the open competitions are not so open - I speak from experience.

And when x people are earning a lot of money they don't want to cut costs by giving it up so freely. Envy is a terrible thing - better to try and figure out how to do things the way they do, rather than drool and whinge about it.

And President Barroso may well be a polyglot - I have no idea - but do you really expect him to finish up at the Commission at 6 pm, then read reports in all 23 languages and draw up a few comments in Bulgarian before he meets up with a Finnish delegation to discuss a proposal from the Italians, the Irish and the Dutch?


Mervyn


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Italian to English
+ ...
One reason why EU job salaries are so high... Mar 7, 2008

Williamson wrote:
They could start cutting cost by reducing Eurocratic salaries (+4000 at AD-level upto about €9000 per month plus perks for a Head of Service) to the average national level.





... is simply because otherwise people wouldn't want them. If you need a balanced workforce made up of a proportionate number of staff from each member state, you need to make the package attractive enough to entice people away from their own country, culture, language, friends and family - and climate, in the case of Italians, Spaniards and Greeks, for example.

I do speak from personal experience, we have just returned to Italy after three years in Luxembourg where my partner was on secondment.

[Edited at 2008-03-07 14:39]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:47
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
These are peanuts Mar 7, 2008

compared to what the bureaucracies cost in the member states and what the Union spends on agriculture.
After all not every document is translated from each language into each other language, but mostly the source is one of the three main languages.

Cheers
Heinrich


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
German to English
+ ...
Indeed. Mar 7, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

These are peanuts compared to what the bureaucracies cost in the member states and what the Union spends on agriculture.


The €2.50 per year which on average these "costly translations" cost each EU citizen per year equates, in fact, very closely to 1 kg of peanuts (German supermarket price).

Marc


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Danae Ferri  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 22:47
Norwegian to Greek
+ ...
Every text should be available in every language Mar 7, 2008

...and not only the texts of the European Parliament, Williamson. The reason why the Commission's texts are being translated is not only for the Commissioners to be able to understand them but for the citizens as well.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Flemish to English
+ ...
Salaries 2 Mar 8, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

Williamson wrote:
They could start cutting cost by reducing Eurocratic salaries (+4000 at AD-level upto about €9000 per month plus perks for a Head of Service) to the average national level.





... is simply because otherwise people wouldn't want them. If you need a balanced workforce made up of a proportionate number of staff from each member state, you need to make the package attractive enough to entice people away from their own country, culture, language, friends and family - and climate, in the case of Italians, Spaniards and Greeks, for example.

I do speak from personal experience, we have just returned to Italy after three years in Luxembourg where my partner was on secondment.

[Edited at 2008-03-07 14:39]


Don't all those candidates want to be at the Service of the Union and contribute building the European ideal, work in an interesting field and doesn't money comes second? "Why do you want to work with us?" is a general HRM-question.
So why not work at Belgian salary levels in Brussels. Same money for the same translator job in the same town. Instead of 4000 per month minimum, about 1500-1600 per month + meal vouchers, which is the Belgian starting salary for a translator at Belgian Government institutions situated in the same street as the European institutions. Every European can participate in the recruitment exams of the Belgian Government. They take place in the same building as where E.U.-preselection tests are held. With regard to the E.U.-recruitment competitions, it is only at the "fourth stage" (when you are on the reserve list), that lobbying is useful. Before, you are a number.

But back to the cost of translation and interpreting and the number of languages. Now 23, within two years 25 and up... Yes, the citizens should be able to read the texts of the Commission. So, why don't they issue a guideline that all European citizens should at least know one foreign language, namely English (and French for the Brits/Irish) and isn't this already the case for most European who went to school. After all, English is the lingua franca of the world.


[Bijgewerkt op 2008-03-08 09:19]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:47
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Reading is not understanding Mar 8, 2008

Williamson wrote:

But back to the cost of translation and interpreting and the number of languages. Now 23, within two years 25 and up... Yes, the citizens should be able to read the texts of the Commission. So, why don't they issue a guideline that all European citizens should at least know one foreign language, namely English (and French for the Brits/Irish) and isn't this already the case for most European who went to school. After all, English is the lingua franca of the world.


[Bijgewerkt op 2008-03-08 09:19]


Its all very well from the standpoint of English europhobians. So you would all be ready and able to get all information in French or German and understand what's going on, without a single doc translated into English?
And you want to make us believe that?

According to my information Britain does not even pay anything to the Union, only recieves Millions of Euro each year. Its Germany that pays the bill. So why do you care how the Union spends the German Euros?

Cheers
Heinrich
Also Finland pays more into the common budget than she recieves back.


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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
English to Latvian
+ ...
Ha! Mar 8, 2008

For some the grapes are VERY sour, it would seem....




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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:47
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
English should not be used as the lingua franca without translations Mar 10, 2008

Williamson wrote:

But back to the cost of translation and interpreting and the number of languages. Now 23, within two years 25 and up... Yes, the citizens should be able to read the texts of the Commission. So, why don't they issue a guideline that all European citizens should at least know one foreign language, namely English (and French for the Brits/Irish) and isn't this already the case for most European who went to school. After all, English is the lingua franca of the world.


It simply wouldn't work in practice. Enlgish is breaking up into different dialects and those who speak it as a second language are not all able to speak it at a high enough level.

Most Danes know a certain amount of English (or American) from watching TV, on top of what they learn in school. In fact they probably come as close as is realistically possible to all knowing at least one foreign language, becase they can't expect many people to speak Danish outside Denmark. In countries where TV is dubbed and fewer languages are taught in the schools than in Denmark (= most of the rest of the EU, probably except for Sweden and Holland, possibly Belgium) it will be several generations or decades before the adult population reaches the same level of language proficiency. Even then, it is not enough to understand and comply with EU regulations and directives.

It doesn't make my/our job any easier, either. Rather the opposite. OK, a proportion of Danes really are good at English. Others just think they are, and they try to write in English and ask me to 'proof' it... First I have to guess what they mean, and then I have to explain why they can't put it the way they want to. In fact it means something different from what they want to say. Other speakers of English would misunderstand. English can be uncannily difficult to pin down. It would honestly be easier and quicker if they wrote their text in Danish and had it translated.

Their passive understanding is better, but you can't rely on it, especially if it is another non-native variety of English. It is the citizens' democratic right to have texts in a language they understand without struggling, and here we are back to justifying the EU's translation costs...

Interlinuga or Esperanto, anyone? They would be better than English as a lingua franca, I suspect, but it would still be necessary to translate into the 'real' languages people use in their daily lives.



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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Flemish to English
+ ...
Klingon Mar 12, 2008

Why don't they introduce Klingon ?

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Article: Language director defends EU's costly translations

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