jeudi, juin 23, 2005

Dies Irae

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Michelangelo's Dies Irae

I am not a translator. Nor am I an interpreter. Notwithstanding the fact that I work at the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg the continuing existence of my employment contract does not depend in any way upon any of these two jobs. I work in French (la langue de la Cour) and I have not yet had to depend on the law as written in my vernacular since no complicated case based upon conflicting terminology between the Melito-Semitic and the Hunno-Allemannic language has hit our Cabinet and its workload yet. There. That is my declaration of interest. I am not speaking out of personal interest in this particular post.

I am referring of course to the article entitled Utterly Pointless by DCG in today�s Indy. The pointless in the title refers to the probable scramble for new translating recruits in order to fulfill our obligations to Europe and ourselves within the project of continuously translating the community Acquis (god, hadn�t we taken a break from that word?). Daphne rightly assess the context of the need for translators as something brought about upon all parties involved for a political gain by the Maltese Republic. This gain means that we will need many many translators in Luxembourg and Brussels and that the pool of persons from where these translators are taken will be a loss for the (intelligent) human resources pool in Malta (brain drain - see previous posts elsewhere on the blogosphere).

Daphne is wrong, however, when she says that the translators will have to be paid for. The money comes from the EU and not directly from the Maltese government. The salary of EU civil servants is exclusively from the EU coffers and the Maltese contribution to that salary is considerably (very considerably) less and much much much less of a burden to the annual project of our Minister of Finance.

Now two things will be debated. Firstly is Maltese really deserving of being a language of the EU-25? Secondly, can we afford the brain drain? The distraction of arguments dividing the patriots and Maltese-lovers from the boody rest will definitely weaken the quality of the overall debate (as usual). The spin-off of this debate interests me more. In my quest of finding out how to define the new European citizen the language question remains an enigma. Does accepting oneself (and one�s culture) and opening up to others at the same time involve multilingualism or translation?

By the way. I love Maltese. I am eternally grateful to the almighty for having placed me on the isle where they speak that unintelligible language. I do think it wonderful that we speak that classical arabic that some insist on calling �semitic not arabic� (sad, sad). The question is ... is Daphne right? Are we wasting resources? I will sit back, popcorn and coke in hand... and anticipate that Daphne will face the ire of one or two of these modern day Knights of the Language. After all... isn�t the pen mightier than the sword?

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Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?

1 commentaire:

vlad a dit…

The debates are indeed always good for a laugh, but it would be a pity if they got sidetrack from the real matters at hand, namely money and efficiency. The latter being especially pertinent in the case of interpreters. If some fool of an MEP will insist on talking in Maltese then this must be translated into English, with possibly unhappy results, only to then be retranslated into a host of other languages, for those not fully conversant in the target language. There was an amusing column in the Economist on this very subject a few months back which diagnosed this phenomenon.
The result is that an already anodyne speech is robbed of whatever potency or directness it might have previously have possessed. An ideal situation perhaps, insofar as it is ensures that absolutely everybody will be unhappy.
As for dismissing the futile expense on the basis that it is not Maltese money anyway, this strikes me as a typically sad bit of Mediterranean parochialism. In the grand scheme of the EU, God knows that Malta is pretty expendable, and who knows that it might not get a slapdown in the hypothetical future event that the leading members want to make an example of somebody. Though I freely admit that the assertion, as I re-read it, looks quite ridiculous.