Apparently it’s retirement time for native English-speaking interpreters and translators in Brussels – whose average age is said to be 58 – but so far a younger cohort has not stepped up to the mark. It all goes back to the problem of teaching foreign languages in UK schools and to the widely held conviction that English-speakers are no good when it comes to communicating in any language apart from their own. The situation is now so dire that the Commission has had to resort to using foreign professionals with excellent English language skills.
Marco Benedetti, director general of interpretation at the commission, said: “The shortage of English translators and interpreters is becoming acute in all international organisations.”
This is all happening at a time when the number of languages spoken in Brussels has reached the grand total of 23 – may be with more to come. Steps have been taken to simplify the interpreting/translation process by using a bridging or relay system. However, even using this process, English is essential and is present in 99.9% of all meetings.
For an interesting (inspirational?) insight of interpreting at EU try this youtube presentation: