World’s Largest Translation Agency Is Getting Larger

The BBC writes about the expanding translation demands of an expanding European Union. When 10 additional countries join the European Union on May 1st, they bring with them the demands of translating and interpreting nine additional languages. This is on top of the existing 11 languages the EU currently manages (and Turkish will be next).

The world’s largest commercial translation agency, Bowne Global Solutions, is a $200 million company. Compare that with the EU, which is about to devote more than $1 billion (US) to translation and interpreting.

Here are some interesting stats from the article:

    EU Translation: Before and After

  • European Commission has 1,300 translators
  • They process 1.5 million pages a year
  • They cost the EU 550 million euros

    After May 1st, staff will almost double in size:

  • They will translate 2.5 million pages a year
  • Their budget will be over 800 million euros

The article also touched on the challenges of interpreting. For example…

    The need for translation already takes away the cut and thrust of a normal parliamentary debate.

    When the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, last year likened a German MEP to a Nazi camp guard, it took several seconds before the German realised he was being insulted and pulled off his headphones in disgust.

This is a great article, as it touches on so many issues. Some within the EU are calling for a common language. Naturally, English has been proposed, but the French will have none of that. Esperanto has even been proposed. I think it’s safe to say that for the foreseeable future, European translators and interpreters face a bright future.

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