The Commission held a briefing in Brussels yesterday entitled “Is English becoming a rare language?” It highlighted the lack of English-language interpreters and translators in the EU institutions. It might not seem logical, but as English becomes such a lingua franca in the work of the EU, the needs for interpreters and translators with English as a mother tongue goes up, not down. We risk losing a third of the current workforce in 2015 due to retirement, and the new people aren’t coming in.
If you read the blog regularly, you will know about the work we do here on languages. The two issues are of course intimately linked. If kids aren’t learning languauges at school, then they’re not studying them at uni. If there are no language graduates, there are no translators and interpreters.
Anyway, here’s a little clip showcasing the work of English-language interpreters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA2fWvtMPDU
Is life (or rather work) just much better when you’re busy? After a surprisingly slow start to the week, things got going mid-week – kind of feels like we’re hitting about 40 on the speedo and accelerating. Quite a few newspapers and media organisations have been in touch as they’re interested in what’s going to be forthcoming from the Commission in the next few months, which is encouraging – they are coming to us! We’ve got a Commissioner over at the beginning of next week, Leonard Orban, who deals with multilingualism and he will be talking about the problems I mentioned a few weeks ago, that Brits are losing out in terms of jobs and business because of their lack of language skills. I’ve had to start taking on some of the responsibilities of a head of section (eek…) in terms of planning our priorities and budgets for 2009 – new stuff for me, but one of the reasons I came here, after all, so I just have to suck it up.
Went to the Museum of London last night for their Late night opening which was great fun (you’ll remember I won a competition and they played my music choices during the evening, which was fun for me, but probably not for the friend I was there with as I kept saying “this is one of mine”!) It was really well organised, with sort of treasure hunt round the musuem and them some fun stuff like making plasticine models of the exhibits. B (the friend) continued the winning theme with her model of a fish amulet, walking away with a book and some other goodies from the shop. The place itself was pretty unprepossessing from the outside, but certainly worth a wander around if you’re in the vicinity.
The BBC is running a piece tonight on efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine. We’ve been financing research on this at European level since 2006 – we did a press briefing in 2007, which was very well attended and was really interesting. I’m not sure whether the projects are linked or not, but it’s got to be good news if we can move more quickly towards such a vaccine. Speaking as someone who can’t have the flu vaccine because I’ve been allergic to eggs…