Call for a European translation policy - sign the petition!

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Dec 6 15:37:04 UTC 2008

Call for a European translation policy - sign the petition!

Thanks to my German colleague at work I've just come across this.
Rosemarie came across it in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. I shall have to a
trawl through the English speaking media to see whether it has been
picked up at all there - saying it a call by European intelectuals is
unfortunately unlikely to give it a lot of appeal to the
English-speaking public and even less to the press! You can also sign
a petition to maintain mulitlingualism in Europe here and look at the
European multilingual website here.

It's being publicised now because of recent debates within the EU
about translation. Meanwhile at the end of November Welsh was
recognised as an official minority language in the EU - meaning that
Welsh ministers can speak in their mother tongue at EU meetings. It's
a beautiful language, but then so is every language. Anyway here's the
statement in full, I think it gives a good defence of why translation
is so important.

Call for a European translation policy

Europe cannot continue to grow if it fails to respect its multiple
languages; for the alternative would be to deny its very identity. It
can take one of two paths: promote the general use of a "business
dialect" to further exchange, with the risk of a collective loss; or
welcome linguistic diversity and safeguard it so as to achieve
improved mutual understanding and genuine dialogue. The European
Union, at least within its provisional borders, has ensured the
movement of goods, capital and people. It is time for Europe to take
on the duty of circulating knowledge, works and imaginary worlds,
thereby reviving the flourishing times of historical Europe. It is
time for Europeans to learn to talk to one another in their different
languages. Showcasing the languages of Europe will help reconcile
citizens with Europe. Translation plays a vital political role.

For a language is not solely an instrument for communication or a
service; nor is it simply heritage or an identity to be preserved.
Each language is a different net thrown across the world, it exists
solely in its interaction with others. In translating a language, we
accentuate its uniqueness and that of the other one: we must
understand at least two languages to realise that we speak one.

Since a language is about transcending identities and experiencing
differences, translation must be at the core of a European public area
that we must all take responsibility in building, in its citizen-based
and institutional dimensions, and in its cultural, social, political
and economic components.
This is why we call for the implementation of a genuine European
translation policy, which will have two cornerstones: mobilising all
actors and sectors in cultural life (teaching, research, interpreting,
publishing, arts, media); giving structure to the European Union's
internal approaches as well as its external policies, by ensuring in
concrete terms the inclusion of other languages in Europe and the
knowledge of Europe's languages elsewhere in the world. In
translation, the European project will draw on renewed vigour.

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