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EU Parliament's Irish interpreter jobs not being filled

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Murad AWAD  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:26
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
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EU Parliament’s Irish interpreter jobs not being filled Mar 21

Very interesting, I make a short research and I found out that there are 11 ProZ.com member and 102 ProZ.com Non-member Irish translators at ProZ.com

Is it possible that non of them was interested with EU Parliament’s Irish interpreter position?


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stringent testing Mar 22

There are several hoops to jump through to achieve an EU post. I know a couple of people who gave up the process due to the demanding nature of the formalities required (cited in the article as "the EU’s stringent 'Concours' test and ... psychometric tests") This may have something to do with the seeming lack of interest.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Call me a philistine, but... Mar 22

...it seems to me that anyone working in the EU who is fluent in Irish would also be fluent in English, and therefore would be able to make do with English interpretation in those instances requiring translation from a language other than English.

Please enlighten me if my assumption is wrong, and my apologies in advance if my assertion here seems at all culturally insensitive.

[Edited at 2017-03-22 16:08 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Call me a Philistine, but... Mar 22

Robert Forstag wrote:

Please enlighten me if my assumption is wrong, and my apologies in advance if my assertion here seems at all culturally insensitive.


You're not a Philistine, but Irish Gaelic and English are very different languages, and I assume it's the former which is being referred to. In all likelihood, most Irish Gaelic speakers will also be fluent English speakers but may be more comfortable using the Gaelic. It's a kind of similar situation to the Catalonia or Valencia regions of Spain. In principle, most Catalan speakers should be bilingual with a full command of Castilian Spanish; however, in the real world, many people, especially the older generations, and in rural communities where only Catalan is spoken, may struggle to express themselves in Castilian.
I think the main reason for such low uptake must be the daunting entry requirements. Even the hassle involved in "homologating" my educational qualifications, which is only part of the process, seemed more bother than it was worth when I considered applying for a translation post some years ago. And a competent interpreter or translator can probably earn roughly the same amount freelancing or working for agencies, but without all the paperwork and hoop jumping demanded of EU candidates.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Follow-up question Mar 22

neilmac wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:

Please enlighten me if my assumption is wrong, and my apologies in advance if my assertion here seems at all culturally insensitive.


You're not a Philistine, but Irish Gaelic and English are very different languages, and I assume it's the former which is being referred to. In all likelihood, most Irish Gaelic speakers will also be fluent English speakers but may be more comfortable using the Gaelic. It's a kind of similar situation to the Catalonia or Valencia regions of Spain. In principle, most Catalan speakers should be bilingual with a full command of Castilian Spanish; however, in the real world, many people, especially the older generations, and in rural communities where only Catalan is spoken, may struggle to express themselves in Castilian.
I think the main reason for such low uptake must be the daunting entry requirements. Even the hassle involved in "homologating" my educational qualifications, which is only part of the process, seemed more bother than it was worth when I considered applying for a translation post some years ago. And a competent interpreter or translator can probably earn roughly the same amount freelancing or working for agencies, but without all the paperwork and hoop jumping demanded of EU candidates.


Thank you, Neilmac.

I did indeed understand that Irish Gaelic was being referenced by "Irish" and Catalans and Basques immediately came to mind by way of analogy.

I realize that this may soon be a moot point, but I have to ask if it is the case for right now that, when the speaker at an EU function is using English, interpretation is required into Irish Gaelic for attendees representing Ireland?


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Very not many Mar 22

1) not many translators could work as interpreters;
2) there're not many those who qualify and specialize;
3) there're not many who meet the requirements;
4) there not many who like the terms;
. . .
There're even less who would accept it.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:26
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Odd competition results... Mar 22

neilmac wrote:

And a competent interpreter or translator can probably earn roughly the same amount freelancing or working for agencies, but without all the paperwork and hoop jumping demanded of EU candidates.


That's probably true, although an AD5 or 7 salary still represents a step up in earning capacity for many people from poorer EU countries. Supposedly officials have some nice benefits as well. I've also heard second-hand about some strange competition results, for example people who've passed the interpreter's selection concours all the way to the actual interpreting test only to fail at that point, even though they've already passed the EU's accreditation test for freelance interpreters, have freelanced for the EU in that combination in the past, and still regularly get called to interpret.


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 03:26
Spanish to English
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"The leading Irish academic institution for training translators ..." Mar 22

... is claimed to be the alma mater of the the article's author, Harry McGee. What might his criteria for "leading" be?

There's a course list here
http://www.lexicool.com/courses_ireland.asp

The article seems to equate translators and interpreters.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:26
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Irish Mar 23

I look forward to the day when the EU adopts a SINGLE official language, and that language is IRISH.



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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:26
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Could be fun Mar 23

Tom in London wrote:

I look forward to the day when the EU adopts a SINGLE official language, and that language is IRISH.



... but I'm afraid you wouldn't like it, Tom, you of all people. Just look what they've done to English! http://www.eca.europa.eu/Other%20publications/EN_TERMINOLOGY_PUBLICATION/EN_TERMINOLOGY_PUBLICATION.pdf

I live with the so-called English by telling myself it's really another language, like Spanish or French.
But those languages developed among real people who lived real lives. You wouldn't seriously wish the same fate on Irish Gaelic as the EU has inflicted on English? You should see what it does to Danish, too. One ends up not understanding one's own language! But maybe it has happened already, and that is your idea of terrible revenge?


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:26
Member
Spanish to English
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Oops Mar 23

Dunno what happened there, must have hit the wrong button a couple of times or something ..

Anyway, as neilmac pointed out, there are hoops various. Maybe Teresa Borges (I think it's Teresa who used to work in EU circles) will correct my cynicism, but I applied a couple of times in the 90s and it was a lot of waiting, documentation, box-ticking, more waiting, then more waiting and eventually a trip to Brussels for the tests. I went on two occasions, to Brussels for interpreting, and Dublin for translating. Over a Guinness or two after the Dublin gig, one of the other applicants, who'd worked in Brussels before, said this was just going through the motions, and that the jobs were already assigned. He was frank enough to tell me that he had a much better chance than I did, simply because he was ex-staff. I asked why he left in the first place, and he said it was boredom doing next to nothing all the time, and that it was only fun earning huge amounts of money for doing nothing all day long if everyone around you wasn't, but they were, earning more and doing less than nothing. Then after a year or two (because they continue to pay you €€€€ for a year or so) his money ran out.

Plus, also as already stated, not all translators can or want to be interpreters.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 04:26
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Terrible article Mar 23

The article keeps mixing translators and interpreters. (It seems there is a shortage of both.) It also says "At present, there are some 14 freelance interpreters working on Irish translation in the parliament, with smaller numbers available to the commission and council.". In fact, the Parliament and the Commission use a shared pool of freelancers (and the Commission's interpreting service supplies interpreting to the Council).

In any case, this is not much of a sensation. Salaries the same for all languages. The money is good, but not astronomical. It's very attractive for people from CEE (like myself) but perhaps not as enticing to somebody from Ireland. And I'm sure there aren't that many native Irish interpreters to begin with. It's a small country and presumably most international business is done in English. Wikipedia says only 1% of Irish people are native speakers, so there is not much demand and not a large pool of potential interpreters/translators.

The concours process is indeed quite lengthy and not the most user friendly but it's not an impossible hurdle. And of course it's designed to whittle the field down to a predetermined size. If there are 15 applicants for 20 positions it's not that hard to make the top 20.


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 03:26
Spanish to English
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Mar 23



[Edited at 2017-03-23 22:17 GMT]


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Gallagy
Ireland
Local time: 03:26
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
various comments Mar 24

Robert
Robert Forstag wrote:

I realize that this may soon be a moot point, but I have to ask if it is the case for right now that, when the speaker at an EU function is using English, interpretation is required into Irish Gaelic for attendees representing Ireland?


The simple answer is "yes" but upon advance request. Some insist on it, even though they understand English (various factors involved which would take too long to explain)
see here: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/gaeilge-to-become-a-full-working-language-of-the-european-union-386308.html

"Interpretation of the spoken word has been available but only on request with advance notice. Last year Irish ministers did not speak any Irish at their meetings in Brussels. But Ms Ní Riada, a native Irish speaker from West Cork, went on a language strike in the parliament, speaking nothing but Irish for a number of weeks despite the lack of official interpretation. Her assistant filled in translating into English for her for a time..."

So, why WAS Irish chosen as an official language for the EU? Well, from what I remember of the discussion at the time, the Irish government figured it would promote the language and create some high-level well-paid jobs (particularly for people from poor Gaeltacht areas). English was already a working language so we could add Irish to the mix but with the exit of Britain, there may have to be a rethink of Irish (and Maltese) policy regarding the language chosen. See here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/european-commission-rejects-claims-english-will-not-be-eu-language-1.2702734

Finally, as to why so few positions were filled...well, I applied for an EU translator position in 2009 as there was supposedly a huge shortage of English native translators. (no, not for Irish as my Irish would not be good enough). I had all the prerequisites in place with 2 official languages and 1 other (French, English, Spanish) and the citizenship/educational background.

So, I went to do the test but there was no translation test! Rather comprehension tests (read and tick multiple choice) and a mathematics test! All at top speed online in an official test centre. The sweat was pumping off me as I tried to complete the tests in time (especially the maths one which involved series and fractions and other stuff I hadn't seen since my schooldays many years before. I thought it was absolutely crazy to have such texts/tests for a translation job and said so in my feedback. I felt really sick from the time pressure when I finished and the supervisor told me many others had made the same complaint. With a bit more time, especially on the Maths, I might have done better. But, although I managed to pass all the tests, I didn't rank high enough to be offered a post! Several others on my MA course in Translation (that very year, so we were used to doing tests/exams at that time) failed the maths part of the test. One of my friends had actually gone to live in Brussels and had done a pre-test course but she failed the maths section as well.

So, I suspect it isn't a question of how many people apply, but rather how many manage to pass those tests. Frankly, I just found it ridiculous that there were no translation tests. So, never again for me...


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