For native English translators and language undergraduates, one of the main points of concern in the aftermath of Brexit has been the prospect that English will now cease to be an official EU language. It is claimed that this scenario would result in English becoming far less in-demand, reducing the overall status of the English language in terms of business, culture and international relations.
For native English translators and language undergraduates, one of the main points of concern in the aftermath of Brexit has been the prospect that English will now cease to be an official EU language. It is claimed that this scenario would result in English becoming far less in-demand for European institutions, putting the jobs of language graduates in danger and reducing the overall status of the English language in terms of business, culture and international relations. This would all seem to make sense, given the fact that Ireland and Malta will be the only remaining countries in the EU with English as an official language. However, there’s reason to believe that things may not be so simple.
La Langue Universelle?
A quick scan of history shows that it wasn’t the presence of the UK which gave English its status as Europe’slingua franca in the first place. When the British joined the EEC along with Ireland back in 1973, the official language of communication within the EU institutions was French. This was partly for historical reasons, and partly because the institutions were located in predominantly French-speaking cities: Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg. The priority given to French was therefore justified, and the incoming UK and Irish officials alone were not numerous enough to make a difference to the language arrangement.
Things started to change about 20 years later. With the arrival of Sweden, Finland and Austria in 1995, English was used increasingly and was used to draft legislation, as it was the first foreign language of a growing number of new officials who required a common language for consultation purposes. The 2004 enlargement of the European Union was its largest single expansion to date. 10 new countries became members, nearly all of whose national education systems offered English as first foreign language, not French. As a result, English became the most obvious common language of communication of new member states and therefore, by extension, the European Union as a whole. Now the EU works with 24 official languages.
Native English Translators still in High Demand
This is why even without Britain’s continued membership of the EU, one would suspect that English will continue to have a central role in communication between member states – at least for the considerable future. The Lithuanian official will still have to use English to communicate with her Dutch colleague, who will then be required to relay the information in English to his Czech boss. For English speaking language graduates, the image of this very common scenario may represent some light at the end of the tunnel.
In terms of translation post-Brexit, it is still the case that English-speaking officials, both administrators and clerical assistants, are in great demand. This puts translators from the Republic of Ireland, Europe’s largest remaining English speakers, in a rather advantageous position. Future selection competitions for recruitment, without competition from British nationals, should therefore favour Irish nationals slightly more than in the past.
This week, our intern Marie, the most recent addition to our in-house team, interviewed one of our senior Lithuanian translators, Rugilė. This is a little post put together by Marie using Rugilė‘s answers to her questions.
Rugilė works with BigTranslation as part of the excellent Lithuanian translation team!
Rugilė, tell us a little about yourself.
I am Lithuanian but I have lived in Spain for just over 15 years. For the last 10 years, I have always had language-related jobs. I studied Translation and Interpreting at university and, since graduating, I have worked exclusively in translation.
What languages do you speak, and how do you maintain your proficiency?
At the University of Vilnius, I had the chance to study English and Spanish as primary languages. Currently, my working languages are: Lithuanian, Spanish, English and Russian. For me, translation is a tool which bridges the gap between people that speak different languages. It is indispensable for international communication.
Was being a translator your dream job when you were little?
Have I always dreamt of being a translator? In all honesty, I can’t say that I discovered my vocation as a child, but my interest in languages did start at a young age. That interest grew and took shape as I travelled to different places over the years, discovering different worlds and different peoples. As well as a translator, I also work as an intercultural mediator and I believe that these two professions are those which best define me professionally.
How did you become a BigTranslator?
I work as a translator and proofreader for BigTranslation. Sometimes life presents you with unexpected proposals and exciting opportunities, and that was the case with BigTranslation. One day I got a call from the team, saying that they were interested in my profile and here I am, forming part of this great and diverse team. This is a young, dynamic and enthusiastic company. Each translator, proofreader, coordinator, etc. has high standards and, together, the team works hard to always ensure that they offer the very best services to their clients. This is a translation agency which not only has the experience, energy and dynamism to adapt to the demands of the market, but also an able IT team working alongside them to make sure that all of the tools, processes and services run smoothly and efficiently.
What are your top tips for translators who are just starting out?
I believe that a good translator has the courage to move away from a text’s words when necessary in order to transmit its message. They skilfully manage the text in such a way that its message and purpose remain unchanged and the message is transmitted to the recipient in the most understandable way possible. Honestly, I can’t imagine a world without translators – translation is an ever more sought after profession, thanks to the rise in globalisation and the expansion of technology. Nowadays, all new technologies and research need to be communicated to the largest number of users as possible and, as such, translation will always be vital.