The Translation Industry and the European Union

Posted on 09/13/12 in INDUSTRY NEWS, LANGUAGE, TRANSLATION, No Comments

On Thursday 13th of September 2012, Ms Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit of Multilingualism and Translation Studies at the Directorate General for Translation (DGT), European Commission, delivered a presentation on the topic of 'Translating for the European Commission' at Dublin City University.

Ms Contino visited DCU as the University is part of the European Masters in Translation Network (EMT), which acts as a quality mark for Masters level translation programmes. In addition, DCU is an academic partner for the Centre of Next Generation Localisation (CGNL) a cooperation unit for universities and companies in order to develop new technologies in localisation business.

Did you know that more than 2 million pages have been translated for the European Commission last year?

This is only one of the facts that Ms Contino came up with showing how important a partner the European Union is for the translation industry as a whole. Since 2008 the demand for the language and translation business in the European Union has been on the rise, growing from 8.4 billion Euro to about 10 billion Euro today. As Ms Contino stated during her presentation, “Languages mean jobs”.

The EU itself employs as many as 5,300 translators and interpreters – 2,500 of which are working in the Directorate General for Translation (DGT) in Brussels and Luxembourg. They translate all subject areas, and document types range from laws (22%) or reports from member states (17%) as well as websites. The DGT translating services offers a large range of services that include not only translation but also editing, written and oral summaries, a translation hotline for other EU institutions, web translation, linguistic advice, translation of confidential texts and others. They also create Translation Memories, such as the EURAMIS (European advanced multilingual information system), and they are currently building up their own machine translation system.

About 30% of the translation work for the European Union is done by freelancers. Ms Contino made clear that it is very hard for individuals to get a contract with the DGT. Translators should rather approach agencies that already have big contracts with the institution to become a part of the EU translation family. For their work, translators can then also make use of IATE and EUR-Lex, terminology bases by the EU which are open to the public and a useful, well-known tool for translators.

It is interesting to note the changing situation in translation business at the EU level that Ms Contino shared:  French, which used to be a major language in the EU, is declining with only about 6 to 7% of all documents translated out of French; whereas in 80% of the cases English is the source language. On the other side, the English translation department continues to grow and Ms Contino stressed the fact that surprisingly most multilinguals work for the English department translating from usually more than one exotic language such as Maltese, Latvian or soon Croatian into their native English.

An interesting rather new project built up by the DGT is the European Master’s in Translation program (EMT). It is a network between leading universities that offer Master degree programs in translation and the DGT. Dublin City University is one of the networks founding members. The network now introduces its own projects such as the TransCert project that will set up a voluntary certification system for translators and the Agora project that wants to improve possibilities for translation students in EMT universities to get practical experience in translation agencies.

At the end of her presentation Ms Contino took the time to answer questions. Language policies were discussed as well as the pressure under which all European institutions are at the moment to cut spending. Despite this, it was clear to see after her presentation that translation services are a necessity to the successful running of the European Commision, and in the EU as a whole and one statement of her's rings true "Translation is like breathing – you only realise you need if it's taken away".

It was a very vivid and interesting presentation – Thank you Ms Contino for your visit to DCU!

More information on the work of Ms Contino and the DGT can be found on their websiteFor any information on how DCU Language Services can assist you language or translation requirements, please get in touch with us:

+353 1 700 5673