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06/12/2016

Young translators compete for Commission crown

Languages & Culture

Young translators compete for Commission crown

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[European Commission]

The 2015 edition of the European Commission-promoted Juvenes Translatores competition will focus on the European Year of Development. EurActiv Italy reports.

The Translatores competition, first held in 2007, promotes the learning of foreign languages and a dialogue between the diverse cultures of the EU, by providing a platform for the very best under-18 translators to compete against each other.

Last year’s edition, which had European identity as its central theme, produced 28 winners, one for each member state.

On 26 November, students who were born in 1998 will be challenged to produce translations focused on the European Year of Development, the first ever European Year to deal with Union foreign policy. The contestants will be able to choose which language to translate from, so long as it is one of the EU’s 24 official languages. They will then be required to translate into one of the 23 remaining choices. This means that there will be a total of 552 potential combinations.

The European Commission maintains the policy that all EU citizens have the right to access all EU documents in the official languages of the Commission, and should be able to write to the executive and receive a response in their own language.

In high-level meetings between member states, the participants are able to use their own language when they take the floor. To satisfy this high demand, the European Commission employs over 2,000 linguistic staff, making it one of the largest translation services in the world.

Europe has widely different attitudes towards learning foreign languages. A 2011 Eurostat survey showed that two out of three working-age adults in the EU-28 speak a foreign language. In many countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden, over 90% of people can speak another language. In the UK, this figure is only 60%, although efforts are being made in the UK to promote language learning, with certain universities such as Cardiff University offering supplementary language courses free of charge to their students.

Schools interested in competing have from 1 September until 20 October to apply. The Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation will then select the institutes that will compete and they will in turn choose between two and five students to take part in the contest. Last year’s edition saw the participation of 751 European schools.

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