Home / XVIII FIT World Congress Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
China Talk: Director-General for DGT from EU
Adjust font size:

China.org.cn: Now they take the exam?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Yes. This is why we try to standardize the exam. So we know what is the output of the university – what kind of skills can we expect when we recruit people? So standard in that sense is very useful for us.

China.org.cn: In this aspect, what do you think China can learn from you?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well, I am not here to give advice; We just heard Chinese language exists in written form for 3,000 years, so I am not here to give advice! But I think that there are lots of issues where we can actually collaborate. One of these is the use, precisely, of the new technology: How can the computer-assisted translator be introduced or developed also in China? I think we have a story to tell from the EU side. We have a story to tell, also, in terms of developing and serving the regional languages. We know that in China there are many, many, many dozens of regional languages. I think it’s very important for the population to participate in decision-making, and in Europe we are trying to develop that. We have some examples of how to deal with this complex situation of foreign languages and cultural identities. How do we address that through the language learning and also translation activity? And finally, I think what we can show is how do we organize our work in this complex situation of 23 languages. 23 languages mean 506 combinations of languages. And that is a very complicated affair. There, also, I think we have a story to tell.

China.org.cn: So, can you give us some introductions on the translation studies in European universities?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well there are many European universities who have a program for translation studies. I think the problem here is that we need to develop much closer cooperation with the universities because the universities otherwise tend to have their own agenda, have their own ideas of what is important. Sometimes we feel that what the universities are researching and studying, are not all that helpful because there is a lot of theory. So we are actually developing a research program of our own in my Directorate-General. But beyond that we are developing some lists or some requests for the universities what we would consider to be important. One area which is of huge importance is this artificial intelligence: voice recognition, machine translation, how to promote better interaction between the man and the machine. Those are areas which we are very keen on developing together with the universities.

China.org.cn: Do you have some plans to promote cooperation between these universities and Chinese universities?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well of course the universities in Europe are autonomous; We can hardly force them or, let's say, make the collaboration obligatory. I think this has to develop quite organically, this cooperation. But on the other side, we have great interest in collaboration between the EU institutions and the academic and the public world in China or in Asia. There, for instance, I would say China and Asia, despite the television and internet, is not very well known. And therefore it is sometimes very difficult to translate correctly documents from Chinese into the European languages – because the background is not well understood. Therefore mutual exchanges and learning and organizing seminars to develop new forms of databases – terminology databanks – those are areas where we could collaborate very fruitfully with China.

China.org.cn: So we should bring your universities and the Chinese universities together?

JUHANI Lonnroth: That is absolutely true.

China.org.cn: The EU is expanding, and it may be that your department has to recruit more translators. How do you face the challenge?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well it is sometimes very difficult. We have actually, over the last four years, increased the number of languages from eleven to 23 and we have recruited about 1000 new staff. This is not easy because sometimes the universities do not furnish sufficient number of candidates, nor sufficient quality candidates, so we have out of our own interest developed this European Master of Translation Program, which would help university to train better translators. We will, of course, face tremendous cost constraints. But I think that the policy of multi-lingualism and the price of multi-lingualism are so important in Europe that with every new member state, there will be a new language. And with a new language, there will be some resources for serving that particular language. So we’ll continue to expand.

China.org.cn: But statistics show that the budget of DGT is on the rise. So does it mean the finance is a top concern of your department already?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well I would say that, of course, all public institutions – they are the subject of great budgetary scrutiny. The taxpayer’s money is not easily spent. However I would rather speak about cost efficiency. And I think that my biggest challenge is how to ensure a high quality translation despite the cost constraints. How do I do that? I do that through better work organization, through improving skills, developing through better use of new technology and higher levels of productivity. So I would consider that cost is a continuing problem, but the key problem is really how to ensure the best quality irrespective of the cost constraints.

China.org.cn: This is the first FIT world congress held in Asia and also first for China. What do you think this great event has brought to China and China's translation industry?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well I think, first of all, it is a magnificent opportunity to get exposure and give also the Chinese reality a better transparency in Europe. I mentioned that we are not very well informed of what's going on in China, irrespective of all the communication possibilities that exist. So this gives a huge exposure for China to the western world. And beyond that you know we can develop a better understanding of how you work and what are your needs in order to develop further collaboration.

China.org.cn: It not only provides a platform for China to show itself, but also provides an opportunity that brings so many countries together to cooperate with each other.

JUHANI Lonnroth: That is true. I mean, this conference gathers about 1,500 delegates. This is the biggest ever event in the translation field and I think one could say that everyone who has some importance in the language arena is here, so this is a great opportunity for networking and for creating contacts with others. We are also here to learn. We, the commission, also get new contacts, new ideas, perhaps even new agreements between the various stakeholders. So for us it is certainly equally useful as for China.

China.org.cn: What expectations do you have for this session?

JUHANI Lonnroth: Well, for me, it is particularly important to discuss with academics. It's particularly important to discuss with our stakeholders. I think it is, for me, this kind of event is an occasion to give a boost to the profession. The translators are not very well known for bringing their own job – their own task, their own profession – up to the forefront. This is an occasion to do it. And I think that we have here an opportunity to be together or to discuss together how to do it, so that we will be better respected as a profession. We are a profession of high intellectual capacity. The translators are highly intelligent and educated people. But they are often considered as the last, let's say, last part of a chain of producing documents. And we would like to change that. This kind of conference is an occasion to do that.

China.org.cn: Thank you.

JUHANI Lonnroth: Xie xie.

(China.org.cn transcript by Adriane Quinlan August 6, 2008)

     1   2   3  

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Summery of Lönnroth's keynote speech: Translation in the EU
- Europe, China build stronger translation ties
- Translation boom boosts world harmony
- Translation guru speaks
Most Viewed >>
- Palin's speech draws 37 mln viewers
- Chinese woman stabbed to death in NZ
- Cheney: Georgia will be in NATO
- World's richest got even richer last year: report
- China submits 2007 military expenditure report to UN
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies